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Full text of "The woman thou gavest me; being the story of Mary O'Neill"

THE WOMAN 
THOU GAYEST ME 

BEING THE STORY OF 
MARY O'NEILL WRITTEN BY 

HALL CAINE 




THE WOMAN 
THOU GAVEST ME 



UNIV. OF EALTF. LIBRARY. LOS ANGELES 



THE WOMAN THOU GAYEST ME 

This novel will be -published as nearly as possible simultaneously in the following 
foreign translations: BOHEMIAN, by Nakladatel Jos. R. Vilimek, Prag; 
DANISH, by Peter Hansen's Forlag, Copenhagen ; DUTCH, by A. W. Sijtho/'s 
UHgevers-Maatschappij, Leyden ; FINNISH, by Osakeyhtio Werner Soderstrom, 
Porvoossa; FRENCH, by Nouvelle Librairie Nationale, Paris; SWEDISH, by 
Bohlin & Co's Bokforlag, Stockholm. Further, GERMAN, HUNGARIAN, 
ITALIAN, JAPANESE, POLISH, RUSSIAN, SPANISH, and YIDDISH 
translations are in preparation. 



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THE WOMAN 
THOU GAVEST ME 

BEING THE STORY OF 
MARY O'NEILL WRITTEN BY 

HALL CAINE 




PHILADELPHIA & LONDON 
J. B. LIPPINCOTT COMPANY 

1913 



MARTIN CONRAD TO THE AUTHOR 

HERE are the Memoranda we have talked about. Do as 
you like with them. Alter, amend, add to or take away from 
them, exactly as you think best. They were written in the 
first instance for my own eye alone, and hence they take much 
for granted which may need explanation before they can be 
put to the more general uses you have designed for them. 
Make such explanation in any way you consider suitable. 
It is my wish that in this matter your judgment should be 
accepted as mine. The deep feeling you could not conceal 
when I told you the story of my dear one's life gives me 
confidence in your discretion. 

Whatever the immediate effect may be, I feel that in the 
end I shall be justified fully justified in allowing the 
public to look for a little while into the sacred confessional 
of my darling's stainless heart. 

I heard her voice again to-day. She was right love is 
immortal. God bless her I My ever lovely and beloved one! 



CONTENTS 

THE NARRATIVE OF MARY O'NEILL 

PAQE 

FIRST PART : MY GIRLHOOD 1 

SECOND PART : MY MARRIAGE 97 

THIRD PART : MY HONEYMOON 185 

FOURTH PART : I FALL IN LOVE 210 

FIFTH PART : I BECOME A MOTHER 308 

SIXTH PART : I AM LOST 401 

SEVENTH PART : I AM FOUND 505 



AUTHOR'S NOTE : The name Raa (of 
Celtic origin with many variations among 
Celtic races) is pronounced Rah in Elian. 



THE NARRATIVE OF 
MARY O'NEILL 




FIRST CHAPTER 

"OuT of the depths, Lord, out of the depths," begins the 
most beautiful ot the services of our church, and it is out of the 
depths of my life that I must bring the incidents of this story. 

I was an unwanted child unwanted as a girl at all events. 
Father Dan Donovan, our parish priest, told me all about it. 
I was born in October. It had been raining heavily all day 
long. The rain was beating hard against the front of our 
house and running in rivers down the window-panes. Towards 
four in the afternoon the wind rose and then the yellow leaves 
of the chestnuts in the long drive rustled noisily, and the sea, 
which is a mile away, moaned like a dog in pain. 

In my father's room, on the ground floor, Father Dan sat 
by the fire, fingering his beads and listening to every sound 
that came from my mother's room, which was immediately 
overhead. My father himself, with his heavy step that made 
the house tremble, was tramping to and fro, from the window 
to the ingle, from the ingle to the opposite wall. Sometimes 
Aunt Bridget came down to say that everything was going on 
well, and at intervals of half an hour Doctor Conrad entered 
in his noiseless way and sat in silence by the fire, took a few 
puffs from a long clay pipe and then returned to his charge 
upstairs. 

My father's impatience was consuming him. 

"It's long," he said, searching the doctor's face. 

"Don't worry above all don't worry," said Father Dan. 

"There's no need," said Doctor Conrad. 

"Then hustle back and get it over," said my father. "It 
will be five hundred dollars to you if this comes off all right." 

I think my father was a great man at that time. I think 
he is still a great man. Hard and cruel as he may have been 

1 A 



2 THE WOMAN THOU GAYEST ME 

to me, I feel bound to say that for him. J f he had been born 
a king, he would have made his nation feared and perhaps 
respected throughout the world. He was born a peasant, the 
poorest of peasants, a crofter. The little homestead of his 
family, with its whitewashed walls and straw-thatched roof, 
still stands on the bleak ayre-lands of Elian, like a herd of 
mottled cattle crouching together in a storm. 

His own father had been a wild creature, full of daring 
dreams, and the chief of them had centred in himself. Al- 
though brought up in a mud cabin, and known as Daniel 
Neale, he believed that he belonged by lineal descent to the 
highest aristocracy of his island, the O'Neills of the Mansion 
House (commonly called the Big House) and the Barons of 
Castle Raa. To prove his claim he spent his days in searching 
the registers of the parish churches, and his nights in talking 
loudly in the village inn. Half in jest and half in earnest, 
people called him "Neale the Lord." One day he was brought 
home dead, killed in a drunken quarrel with Captain O'Neill, 
a dissolute braggart, who had struck him over the temple with 
a stick. His wife, my grandmother, hung a herring net across 
the only room of her house to hide his body from the children 
who slept in the other bed. 

There were six of them, and after the death of her husband 
she had to fend for all. The little croft was hungry land, and 
to make a sufficient living she used to weed for her more 
prosperous neighbours. It was ill-paid labour ninepence a 
day fine days and sixpence all weathers, with a can of milk 
twice a week and a lump of butter thrown in now and then. 
, The ways were hard and the children were the first to feel 
them. Five of them died. "They weren't willing to stay with 
me," she used to say. My father alone was left to her, and 
he was another Daniel. As he grew up he was a great help 
to his mother. I feel sure he loved her. Difficult as it may 
be to believe it now, I really and truly think that his natural 
disposition was lovable and generous to begin with. 

There is a story of his boyhood which it would be wrong 
of me not to tell. His mother and he had been up in the moun- 
tains cutting gorse and ling, which with turf from the Curragh 
used to be the crofter's only fuel. They were dragging down 
a prickly pile of it by a straw rope when, dipping into the 
high road by a bridge, they crossed the path of a splendid 
carriage which swirled suddenly out of the drive of the Big 
House behind two high -spirited bays driven by an English 



MY GIRLHOOD 3 

coachman in gorgeous livery. The horses reared and shied 
at the bundle of kindling, whereupon a gentleman inside the 
carriage leaned out and swore, and then the brutal coachman, 
lashing out at the bare-headed woman with his whip, struck 
the boy on his naked legs. 

At the next moment the carriage had gone. It had belonged 
to the head of the O'Neills, Lord Raa of Castle Raa, whose 
nearest kinsman, Captain 'Neill, had killed my grandfather, 
so my poor grandmother said nothing. But her little son, as 
soon as his smarting legs would allow, wiped his eyes with 
his ragged sleeve and said : 

' ' Never mind, mammy. You shall have a carriage of your 
own when I am a man, and then nobody shall never lash you. ' ' 

His mother died. He was twenty years of age at that time, 
a large-limbed, lusty-lunged fellow, almost destitute of edu- 
cation but with a big brain and an unconquerable will ; so he 
strapped his chest and emigrated to America. What work 
he found at first I never rightly knew. I can only remember 
to have heard that it was something dangerous to human life 
and that the hands above him dropped off rapidly. Within 
two years he was a foreman. Within five years he was a 
partner. In ten years he was a rich man. At the end of five- 
and-twenty years he was a millionaire, controlling trusts and 
corporations and carrying out great combines. 

I once heard him say that the money tumbled into his chest 
like crushed oats out of a crovvn shaft, but what happened at 
last was never fully explained to me. Something I heard of 
a collision with the law and of a forced assignment of his 
interests. All that is material to my story is that at forty-five 
years of age he returned to Elian. He was then a changed 
man, with a hard tongue, a stern mouth, and a masterful lift 
of the eyebrows. His passion for wealth had left its mark 
upon him, but the whole island went down before his face like 
a flood, and the people who had made game of his father came 
crawling to his feet like cockroaches. 

The first thing he did on coming home was to buy up his 
mother's croft, re-thatch the old house, and put in a poor 
person to take care of it. 

' ' Guess it may come handy some day, ' ' he said. 

His next act was worthy of the son of "Neale the Lord." 
Finding that Captain O'Neill had fallen deeply into debt, he 
bought up the braggart's mortgages, turned him out of the 
Big House, and took up his own abode in it. 



4 THE WOMAN THOU GAVEST ME 

Twelve months later he made amends, after his own manner, 
by marrying one of the Captain's daughters. There were 
two of them. Isabel, the elder, was a gentle and beautiful girl, 
very delicate, very timid, and most sweet when most submissive, 
like the woodland herbs which give out their sweetest fragrance 
when they are trodden on and crushed. Bridget, the younger, 
was rather homely, rather common, proud of her strength of 
mind and will 

To the deep chagrin of the younger sister, my father selected 
the elder one. I have never heard that my mother's wishes 
were consulted. Her father and my father dealt with the 
marriage as a question of business, and that was an end of the 
matter. On the wedding day my father did two things that 
were highly significant. He signed the parish register in the 
name of Daniel O'Neill by right of Letters Patent; and on 
taking his bride back to her early home, he hoisted over the 
tower of his chill grey house the stars and stripes of his once 
adopted country stitched to the flag of his native island. He 
had talked less than "Neale the Lord," but he had thought 
and acted more. 

Two years passed without offspring, and my father made no 
disguise of his disappointment, which almost amounted to 
disgust. Hitherto he had occupied himself with improvements 
in his house and estate, but now his restless energies required 
a wider field, and he began to look about him. Elian was then 
a primitive place, and its inhabitants, half landsmen, half 
seamen, were a simple pious race living in a sweet poverty 
which rarely descended into want. But my father had magnifi- 
cent schemes for it. By push, energy and enterprise he would 
galvanise the island into new life, build hotels, theatres, casinos, 
drinking halls and dancing palaces, lay out race-courses, con- 
struct electric railways to the tops of the mountains, and 
otherwise transform the place into a holiday resort for the 
people of the United Kingdom. 

"We'll just sail in and make this old island hum," he said, 
and a number of his neighbours, nothing loth to be made rich 
by magic advocates, bankers and insular councillors joined 
hands with him in his adventurous schemes. 

But hardly had he begun when a startling incident happened. 
The old Lord Raa of Castle Raa, head of the 'Neills, the same 
that had sworn at my grandmother, after many years in which 
he had lived a bad life abroad where he had contracted fatal 
maladies, returned to Elian to die. Being a bachelor, his 



heir would have been Captain O'Neill, but my mother's father 
had died during the previous winter, and in the absence of 
direct male issue it seemed likely that both title and inheritance 
(which, by the conditions of an old Patent, might have de- 
scended to the nearest living male through the female line) 
would go to a distant relative, a boy, fourteen years of age, a 
Protestant, who was then at school at Eton. 

More than ever now my father chewed the cud of his great 
disappointment. But it is the unexpected that oftenest hap- 
pens, and one day in the spring, Doctor Conrad, being called 
to see my mother, who was indisposed, announced that she 
was about to bear a child. 

My father's delight was almost delirious, though at first 
his happiness was tempered by the fear that the child that 
was to be born to him might not prove a boy. Even this 
danger disappeared from his mind after a time, and before 
long his vanity and his unconquerable will had so triumphed 
over his common sense that he began to speak of his unborn 
chikl as a son, just as if the birth of a male child had been 
prearranged. With my mother, with Doctor Conrad, and 
above all with Father Dan, he sometimes went the length of 
discussing his son's name. It was to be Hugh, because that 
had been the name of the heads of the O'Neills through all 
the ages, as far back as the legendary days in which, as it 
was believed, they had been the Kings of Elian. 

My mother was no less overjoyed. She had justified herself 
at last, and if she was happy enough at the beginning in the 
tingling delight of the woman who is about to know the sweetest 
of humau joys, the joy of bearing a child, she acquiesced 
at length in the accepted idea that her child would be a boy. 
Perhaps she was moved to this merely by a desire to submit 
to her husband 's will, and to realise his hopes and expectations. 
Or perhaps she had another reason, a secret reason, a reason 
that came of her own weakness and timidity as a woman, 
namely, that the man child to be born of her would be strong 
and brave and free. 

All went well down to the end of autumn, and then alarming 
news came from Castle Raa. The old lord had developed 
some further malady and was believed to be sinking rapidly. 
Doctor Conrad was consulted and he gave it as his opinion 
that the patient could not live beyond the year. This threw 
my father into a fever of anxiety. Sending for his advocate, 
he took counsel both with him and with Father Dan. 



6 THE WOMAN THOU GAVEST ME 

* ' Come now, let us get the hang of this business, ' ' he said ; 
and when he realised that (according to the terms of the 
ancient Patent) i the old lord died before his child was born, 
his high-built hopes would be in the dust, his eagerness became 
a consuming fire. 

For the first time in his life his excitement took forms of 
religion and benevolence. He promised that if everything 
went well he would give a new altar to Our Lady's Chapel in 
the parish church of St. Mary, a ton of coals to every poor 
person within a radius of five miles, and a supper to every 
inhabitant of the neighbouring village who was more than 
sixty years of age. It was even rumoured that he went so 
far in secret as to provide funds for the fireworks with 
which some of his flatterers were to celebrate the forthcoming 
event, and that one form of illumination was a gigantic frame 
which, set upon the Sky Hill, immediately in front of our 
house, was intended to display in brilliant lights the glowing 
words "God Bless the Happy Heir." Certainly the birth 
was to be announced by the ringing of the big bell of the 
tower as signal to the country round about that the appointed 
festivities might begin. 

Day by day through September into October, news came 
from Castle Raa by secret channels. Morning by morning, 
Doctor Conrad was sent for to see my mother. Never had 
the sun looked down on a more gruesome spectacle. It was 
a race between the angel of death and the angel of life, with 
my father's masterful soul between, struggling to keep back 
the one and to hasten on the other. 

My father's impatience affected everybody about him. Espe- 
cially it communicated itself to the person chiefly concerned. 
The result was just what might have been expected. My 
mother was brought to bed prematurely, a full month before 
her time. 

SECOND CHAPTER 

BY six o'clock the wind had risen to the force of a hurricane. 
The last of the withered leaves of the trees in the drive had 
fallen and the bare branches were beating together like bundles 
of rods. The sea was louder than ever, and the bell on St. 
Mary's Rock, a mile away from the shore, was tolling like 
a knell under the surging of the waves. Sometimes the clash- 
ing of the rain against the window-panes was like the wash of 
billows over the port-holes of a ship at sea. 



MY GIRLHOOD 7 

"Pity for the poor folk with their fireworks," said Father 
Dan. 

"They'll eat their suppers for all that," said my father. 

It was now dark, but my father would not allow the lamps 
to be lighted. There was therefore no light in his gaunt room 
except a sullen glow from the fire of peat and logs. Some-, 
times, in a momentary lull of the storm, an intermittent moan 
would come from the room above, followed by a dull hum 
of voices. 

' ' Guess it can 't be long now. ' ' my father would say. 

"Praise the Lord," Father Dan would answer. 

By seven the storm was at its height. The roaring of the 
wind in the wide chimney was as loud as thunder. Save for 
this the thunderous noise of the sea served to drown all sounds 
on the land. Nevertheless, in the midst of the clamour a 
loud rapping was heard at the front door. One of the maid- 
servants would have answered it, but my father called her 
back and, taking up a lantern, went to the door himself. As 
quietly as he could for the rush of wind without, he opened 
it, and pulling it after him, he stepped into the porch. 

A man in livery was there on horseback, with another saddled 
horse beside him. He was drenched through, but steaming 
with sweat as if he had ridden long and hard. Shouting above 
the roar of the storm, he said : 

"Doctor Conrad is here, is he?" 

' ' He is what of it ? " said my father. 

"Tell him he's wanted and must come away with me at 
once." 

' ' Who says he must ? ' ' 

"Lord Raa, His lordship is dangerously ill. He wishes 
to see the doctor immediately. ' ' 

I think my father must then have gone through a moment 
of fierce conflict between his desire to keep the old lord alive 
and his hope of the immediate birth of his offspring. But 
his choice was quickly made. 

"Tell the lord," he cried, "that a woman is here in child- 
birth, and until she's delivered the doctor cannot come to him." 

"But I've brought a horse, and the doctor is to go back 
with me. ' ' 

"Give the lord my message and say it is Daniel O'Neill 
who sends it. ' ' 

"But his lordship is dying and unless the doctor is there 
to tap him, he may not live till morning." 



8 THE WOMAN THOU GAYEST ME 

"Unless the doctor is here to deliver my wife, my child 
may be dead before midnight." 

"What is the birth of your child to the death of his 
lordship?" cried the man; but, before the words were well 
out of his mouth, my father, in his great strength, had laid 
hold of the reins and swung both horse and rider round 
about. 

"Get yourself to the other side of my gate, or I'll fling 
you into the road," he cried; and then, returning to the 
porch, he re-entered the house and clashed the door behind 
him. 

Father Dan used to say that for some moments more the 
groom from Castle Raa could be heard shouting the name of 
the doctor to the lighted windows of my mother's room. But 
his voice was swirled away in the whistling of the wind, and 
after a while the hoofs of his horses went champing over the 
gravel in the direction of the gate. 

When my father returned to his room, shaking the rain 
from his hair and beard, he was fuming with indignation. 
Perhaps a memory of forty years ago was seething in his 
excited brain. 

' ' The old scoundrel, ' ' he said. " He 'd like it, wouldu 't he ? 
They'd all like it! Which of them wants a son of mine 
amongst them?" 

The roaring night outside became yet more terrible. So 
loud was the noise from the shore that it was almost as if a 
wild beast were trying to liberate itself from the womb of 
the sea. At one moment Aunt Bridget came downstairs to 
say that the storm was frightening my mother. All the 
servants of the house were gathered in the hall, full of fear, 
and telling each other superstitious stories. 

Suddenly there came a lull. Rain and wind seemed to cease 
in an instant. The clamour of the sea became less and the 
tolling of the bell on St. Mary's Rock died away in the distance. 
It was almost as if the world, which had been whirling through 
space, suddenly stood still. 

In that moment of silence a deeper moan than usual came 
from the room overhead. My father dropped into a chair, 
clasped his hands and closed his eyes. Father Dan rattled 
his pearl beads and moved his lips, but uttered no sound. 

Then a faint sound came from the room overhead. My 
father opened his eyes and listened. Father Dan held his 
breath. The sound was repeated, but louder, clearer, shriller 



MY GIRLHOOD 9 

than before. There could be no mistaking it now. It was 
Nature's eternal signal that out of the womb of silence a 
living soul had been born into the world. 

"It's over," said my father. 

11 Glory be to God and all the Saints!" said Father Dan. 

"That'll beat 'em," cried my father, and he leapt to his 
feet and laughed. 

Going to the door of the room, he flung it open. The 
servants in the hall were now whispering eagerly, and one 
of them, the gardener, Tom Dug, commonly called Tommy 
the Mate, stepped out and asked if he ought to ring the 
big bell. 

"Certainly," said my father. "Isn't that what you've 
been standing by for?" 

A few minutes later the bell of the tower began to ring, 
and it was followed almost immediately by the bell of our 
parish church, which rang out a merry peal. 

"That'll beat 'em, I say," cried my father, and laughing 
in his triumph he tramped the flagged floor with a firmer step 
than ever. 

All at once the crying of the child ceased and there was 
a confused rumble of voices overhead. My father stopped, 
his face straightened, and his voice, which had rung out like 
a horn, wheezed back like a whistle. 

"What's going doing? "Where's Conrad? Why doesn't 
Conrad come to me?" 

"Don't worry. He'll be down presently," said Father 
Dan. 

A few minutes passed, in which nothing was said and nothing 
heard, and then, unable to bear the suspense any longer, 
my father went to the foot of the staircase and shouted the 
doctor's name. 

A moment later the doctor's footsteps were heard on the 
stone stairs. They were hesitating, halting, dragging footsteps. 
Then the doctor entered my father's room. Even in the sullen 
light of the peat fire his face was white, ashen white. He 
did not speak at first, and there was an instant of silence, dead 
silence. Then my father said : 
'Well, what is it?" 
'It is . . ." 

'Speak man! . . . Do you mean it is . . . deadf" 
'No! Oh no! Not that." 
'What then?" 



10 

"It is a girl." 

"Agir. . . . Did you say a girl ?" 

"Yes." 

"My God!" said my father, and he dropped back into the 
chair. His lips were parted and his eyes which had been 
blazing with joy, became fixed on the dying fire in a stupid 
stare. 

Father Dan tried to console him. There were thistles in 
everybody's crop, and after all it was a good thing to have 
begotten a girl. Girls were the flowers of life, the joy and 
comfort of man in his earthly pilgrimage, and many a father 
who bemoaned his fate when a daughter had been born to him, 
had lived to thank the Lord for her. 

All this time the joy bells had been ringing, and now the 
room began to be illuminated by fitful flashes of variegated 
light from the firework- frame on the top of Sky Hill, which 
(as well as it could for the rain that had soaked it) was sputter- 
ing out its mocking legend, "God Bless the Happy Heir." 

In his soft Irish voice, which was like a river running over 
smooth stones, Father Dan went on with his comforting. 

"Yes, women are the salt of the earth, God bless them, 
and when I think of what they suffer that the world may go 
on, that the generations may not fail, I feel as if I want to go 
down on my knees and kiss the feet of the first woman I meet 
in the street. "What would the world be without women ? 
Think of St. Theresa! Think of the Blessed Margaret Maryi 
Think of the Holy Virgin herself. . . ." 

"Oh, stow this stuff," cried my father, and leaping to his 
feet, he began to curse and swear. 

"Stop that accursed bell! Is the fool going to ring for 
ever? Put out those damnable lights, too. Put them out. 
Are the devils of hell trying to laugh at me?" 

With that, and an oath at himself for his folly, my father 
strode out of the room. 

My mother had heard him. Through the unceiled timbers 
of the floor between them the words of his rage had reached 
her. She was ashamed. She felt as if she were a guilty thing, 
and with a low cry of pain she turned to the wall and fainted. 

The old lord died the same night. Somewhere, towards 
the dead reaches of the dawn his wicked spirit went to its 
reckoning, and a month afterwards the new Lord Raa, a boy 
in an Eton jacket, came over to take possession of his in- 
heritance. 



MY GIRLHOOD 11 

But long before that my father, scoring out his disappoint- 
ment like an account that was closed, had got to work with his 
advocates, bankers and insular councillors on his great schemes 
for galvanising the old island into new life. 

THIRD CHAPTER 

OUT of the mist and veil of my own memory, as distinguished 
from Father Dan's, there comes first the recollection of a big 
room containing a big bed, a big wardrobe, a big dressing table, 
a big praying-stool with an image of Our Lady on the wall 
above it, and an open window to which a sparrow used to come 
in the mornings and chirp. 

When I came to recognise and to classify I realised that this 
was my mother's room, and that the sweet somebody who 
used to catch me up in her arms when I went tottering on 
voyages of discovery round the vast place was my mother 
herself, and that she would comfort me when I fell, and stroke 
my head with her thin white hand, while she sang softly and 
rocked me to and fro. 

As I have no recollection of ever having seen my mother in 
any other part of our house, or indeed in any other place 
except our carriage when we drove out in the sunshine, I con- 
clude that from the time of my birth she had been an invalid. 

Certainly the faces which first emerge from the islands of 
my memory are the cheerful and sunny ones of Doctor Conrad 
and F'ather Dan. I recall the soft voice of the one as he used 
to enter our room after breakfast saying, "How are we this 
morning ma'am?" And I remember the still softer voice of 
the other as he said "And how is my daughter to-day ?" 

I loved both of them, but especially Father Dan, who used 
to call me his Nanny and say I was the plague and pet of his 
life, being as full of mischief as a goat. He must have been an 
old child himself, for I have clear recollection of how, imme- 
diately after confessing my mother, he would go down on all 
fours with me on the floor and play at hide-and-seek around 
the legs of Ihe big bed, amid squeals and squeaks of laughter. 
I remember, too, that he wore a long sack coat which buttoned 
close at the neck and hung loose at the skirts, where there were 
two large vertical pockets, and that these pockets were my 
cupboards and drawers, for I put my toys and my doll and even 
the remnants of my cakes into them to be kept in safe custody 
until wanted again. 



12 THE WOMAN THOU GAYEST ME 

My mother called me Mally veen (Mary dear) and out of love 
of her only child she must have weaned me late, for I have 
vague memories of her soft white breasts filled with milk. I 
slept in a little wickerwork cot placed near her bed, so that 
she could reach me if I uncovered myself in the night. She 
used to say I was like a bird, having something birdlike in my 
small dark head and the way I held it up. Certainly I remem- 
ber myself as a swift little thing, always darting to and fro 
on tiptoe, and chirping about our chill and rather cheerless 
house. 

If I was like a bird my mother was like a flower. Her head, 
which was small and fair, and her face, which was nearly 
always tinged with colour, drooped forward from her delicate 
body like a rose from its stalk. She was generally dressed in 
black, I remember, but she wore a white lace collar as well as 
a coif such as we see in old pictures, and when I call her back 
to my mind, with her large liquid eyes and her sweet soft mouth, 
I think it cannot be my affection alone, or the magic of my 
childish memory, which makes me think, after all these years 
and all the countries I have travelled in, and all the women I 
have seen, that my darling mother, though so little known 
and so little loved, was the most beautiful woman in the 
world. 

Even yet I cannot but wonder that other people, my father 
especially, did not see her with my eyes. I think he was fond 
of her after his own fashion, but there was a kind of involun- 
tary contempt in his affection, which could not conceal itself 
from my quick little eyes. She was visibly afraid of him, and 
was always nervous and timid when he came into our room 
with his customary salutation, 

"How now, Isabel? And how's 1his child of yours?" 

From my earliest childhood I noticed that he always spoke 
of me as if I had been my mother's child, not his, and perhaps 
this affected my feeling for him from the first. 

I was in terror of his loud voice and rough manner, the big 
bearded man with the iron grey head and the smell of the fresh 
air about his thick serge clothes. It was almost as if I had 
conceived this fear before my birth, and had brought it out 
of the tremulous silence of my mother's womb. 

My earliest recollections are of his muffled shout from the 
room below, "Keep your child quiet, will you?" when I was 
disturbing him over his papers by leaping and skipping about 
the floor. If he came upstairs when I was in bed I would dive 



MY GIELHOOD 13 

under the bedclothes, as a duck dives under water, and only 
come to the surface when he was gone. I am sure I never 
kissed my father or climbed on to his knee, and that during 
his short visits to our room I used to hold my breath and hide 
my head behind my mother's gown. 

I think my mother must have suffered both from my fear of 
my father and from my father's indifference to me, for she 
made many efforts to reconcile him to my existence. Some of 
her innocent schemes, as I recall them now, seem very sweet 
but very pitiful. She took pride, for instance, in my hair, 
which was jet black even when I was a child, and she used to 
part it in the middle and brush it smooth over my forehead in 
the manner of the Madonna, and one day, when my father was 
with us, she drew me forward and said : 

"Don't you think our Mary is going to be very pretty? 
A little like the pictures of Our Lady, perhaps don't you 
think so, Daniel?" 

"Whereupon my father laughed rather derisively and 
answered : 

"Pretty, is she? Like the Virgin, eh? Well, well!" 

I was always fond of music, and my mother used to teach 
me to sing to a little upright piano which she was allowed to 
keep in her room, and on another day she said: 

"Do you know our Mary has such a beautiful voice, dear? 
So sweet and pure that when I close my eyes I could almost 
think it is an angel singing." 

Whereupon my father laughed as before, and answered : 

"A voice, has she? Like an angel's, is it? What next, I 
wonder? " 

My mother made most of my clothes. There was no need 
for her to do so, but in the absence of household duties I 
suppose it stimulated the tenderness which all mothers feel 
in covering the little limbs they love; and one day, having 
made a velvet frock for me, from a design in an old pattern 
book of coloured prints, which left the legs and neck and arms 
very bare, she said: 

"Isn't our Mary a little lady? But she will always look 
like a lady, whatever she is dressed in. ' ' 

And then my father laughed still more contemptuously and 
replied, 

"Her grandmother weeded turnips in the fields though 
ninepence a day dry days, and sixpence all weathers." 

My mother was deeply religious, never allowing a day to 



14 THE WOMAN THOU GAVEST ME 

pass without kneeling on her prayer-stool before the image of 
the Virgin, and one day I heard her tell my father that when 
I was a little mite, scarcely able to speak, she found me kneeling 
in my cot with my doll perched up before me, moving my lips 
as if saying my prayers and looking up at the ceiling with a 
rapt expression. 

"But she has always had such big, beautiful, religious eyes, 
and I shouldn't wonder if she becomes a Nun some day ! " 

"A nun, eh? Maybe so. But I take no stock in the nun 
business anyway," said my father. 

Whereupon my mother's lips moved as if she were saying 
"No, dearest," but her dear, sweet pride was crushed and she 
could go no farther. 

FOURTH CHAPTER 

THERE was a whole colony on the ground floor of our house 
who, b'ke my father, could not reconcile themselves to my 
existence, and the head of them was Aunt Bridget. 

She had been married, soon after the- marriage of my mother, 
to one Colonel MacLeod, a middle-aged officer on half-pay, 
a widower, a Belfast Irishman, and a tavern companion of 
my maternal grandfather. But the Colonel had died within 
a year, leaving Aunt Bridget with one child of her own, a 
girl, as well as a daughter of his wife by the former marriage. 
As this happened about the time of my birth, when it became 
obvious that my mother was to be an invalid, my father invited 
Aunt Bridget to come to his house as housekeeper, and she 
came, and brought her children with her. 

Her rule from the outset had been as hard as might have 
been expected from one w r ho prided herself on her self-com- 
mand a quality that covered everybody, including my mother 
and me, and was only subject to softening in favour of her 
own offspring. 

Aunt Bridget's own daughter, a year older than myself, 
was a fair child with light grey eyes, round cheeks of the colour 
of ripe apples, and long yellow hair that was carefully combed 
and curled. Her name was Betsy, which was extended by 
her mother to Betsy Beauty. She was usually dressed in a 
muslin frock with a sash of light blue ribbon, and being 
understood to be delicate was constantly indulged and nearly 
always eating, and giving herself generally the airs of the 
daughter of the house. 

Aunt Bridget's step- daughter, ten years older, was a gaunt, 



MY GIRLHOOD 15 

ungainly girl with red hair and irregular features. Her name 
was Nessy, and, having an instinctive sense of her dependent 
position, she was very humble and subservient and, as Tommy 
the Mate used to say, "as smooth as an old threepenny bit" 
to the ruling powers, which always meant my Aunt, but spite- 
ful, insolent, and acrid to anybody who was outside my Aunt's 
favour, which usually meant me. 

Between my cousin and myself there were constant feuds, 
in which Nessy MacLeod never failed to take the side of Betsy 
Beauty, while my poor mother became a target for the shafts 
of Aunt Bridget, who said I was a wilful, wicked, underhand 
little vixen, and no wonder, seeing how disgracefully I was 
indulged, and how shockingly I was being brought up. 

These skirmishes went on for a considerable time without 
consequences, but they came at last to a foolish climax which 
led to serious results. 

Even my mother's life had its gleams of sunshine, and 
flowers were a constant joy to her. Old Tommy, the gardener, 
was aware of this, and every morning sent up a bunch of 
them, freshly cut and wet with the dew. But one day in the 
spring he could not do so, being out in the dubs of the Curragh, 
cutting peat for the fires. Therefore I undertook to supply 
the deficiency, having already, with the large solemnity of 
six, begun to consider it my duty to take charge of my mother. 

"Never mind, mammy, I'll setch some slowers sor you," I 
said (every / being an s in those days), and armed with a pair 
of scissors I skipped down to the garden. 

I had chosen a bed of annuals because they were bright and 
fragrant, and was beginning to cut some "gilvers" when 
Xessy MacLeod, who had been watching from a window, came 
bouncing down me. 

"Mary O'Neill, how dare you?" cried Nessy. "You wilful, 
wicked, underhand little vixen, what will your Aunt Bridget 
say? Don't you know this is Betsy Beauty's bed, and nobody 
else is to touch it?" 

I began to excuse myself on the ground of my mother and 
Tommy the Mate, but Nessy would hear no such explanation. 

"Your mamma has nothing to do with it. You know quite 
well that your Aunt Bridget manages everything in this house, 
and nothing can be done without her." 

Small as I was that was too much for me. Somewhere in my 
little heart there had long been a secret pang of mortified 



16 

pride how born I do not know at seeing Aunt Bridget take 
the place of my mother, and now, choking with vexation but 
without saying a word, I swept off the heads of all the flowers 
in the bed, and with my arms full of them ten times more 
than I wanted I sailed back to my mother's room. 

Inside two minutes there was a fearful tumult. I thought 
I was doomed to punishment when I heard the big bunch of 
keys, which Aunt Bridget kept suspended from her waist, come 
jingling up the stairs, but it was my poor mother who paid 
the penalty. 

"Isabel," cried Aunt Bridget, "I hope you are satisfied 
with your child at last." 

"What has Mary been doing now, dear?" said my mother. 

"Don't ask me what she has been doing. You know quite 
well, or if you don't you ought to." 

My mother glanced at the flowers and she seemed to under- 
stand what had happened, for her face fell and she said 
submissively, 

"Mary has done wrong, but I am sure she is sorry and will 
never do it again." 

"Sorry, indeed!" cried my Aunt. "Not she sorry. And 
she'll do it again at the very next opportunity. The vixen! 
The little wilful, underhand vixen ! But what wonder if 
children go wrong when their own mothers neglect to correct 
them." 

"I daresay you are quite right, dear Bridget you are 
always right," said my mother in a low, grave voice. "But 
then I 'm not very well, and Mary is all I have, you know. ' ' 

My mother was in tears by this time, but Aunt Bridget 
was not content with her triumph. Sweeping downstairs she 
carried her complaint to my father, who ordered that I was 
to be taken out of my mother's charge on the ground that she 
was incapable of attending to my upbringing a task which, 
being assigned to my Aunt Bridget, provided that I should 
henceforward live on the ground floor and eat oaten cake and 
barley bonnag and sleep alone in the cold room over the hall 
while Betsy Beauty ate wheaten bread and apple tart and 
slept with her mother in the room over the kitchen in which 
they always kept a fire. 



MY GIRLHOOD 17 



FIFTH CHAPTER 

THE altered arrangements were a cause of grief to my mother, 
but I am bound to confess that for me they had certain com- 
pensations. One of them was the greater ease with which I 
could slip out to Tommy the Mate, who had been a sailor 
before he was a gardener, and was still a fine old salt, with 
grizzled beard and shaggy eyebrows, and a merry twinkle in 
what he called his "starboard" eye. 

I think Tommy was one of the few about my father 's house 
who were really fond of me. but perhaps that was mainly 
because he loathed Aunt Bridget. He used to call her the 
Big Woman, meaning that she was the master and mistress 
of everything and everybody about the place. "When he was 
told of any special piece of her tyranny to servant or farm- 
hand he used to say: "Aw, well, she'll die for all"; and when 
he heard how she had separated me from my mother, who 
had nothing else to love or live for, he spat sideways out of his 
mouth and said : 

"Our Big Woman is a wicked devil, I'm thinking, and I 
wouldn't trust [shouldn't wonder] but she'll burn in hell." 

What definite idea I attached to this denunciation I do 
not now recall, but I remember that it impressed me deeply, 
and that many a night afterwards, during the miserable half- 
hours before I fell asleep with my head under the clothes in the 
cold bedroom over the hall to which (as Nessy MacLeod had 
told me) the bad fairies came for bad children, I repeated the 
strange words again and again. 

Another compensation was the greater opportunity I had 
for cultivating an acquaintance which I had recently made 
with the doctor's son, when he came with his father on visits 
to my mother. As soon as the hoofs of the horse were heard 
on the gravel, and before the bell could be rung, I used to 
dart away on tiptoe, fly through the porch, climb into the 
gig and help the boy to hold the reins while his father was 
upstairs. 

This led to what I thought a great discovery. It was about 
my mother. I had always known my mother was sick, but 
now I got a "skute" (as old Tommy used to say) into the 
cause of .her illness. It was a matter of milk. The doctor's 
boy had heard his father saying so. If my mother could only 



18 THE WOMAN THOU GAVEST ME 

have milk morning, noon and night, every day and all day, 
' ' there wouldn 't be nothing the matter with her. ' ' 

This, too, impressed me deeply, and the form it took in 
my mind was that "mammy wasn't sed enough," a conclusion 
that gained colour from the fact that I saw Betsy Beauty 
perched up in a high chair in the dining-room twice or thrice 
a day, drinking nice warm milk fresh from the cow. We had 
three cows, I remember, and to correct the mischief of my 
mother's illness, I determined that henceforth she should not 
have merely more of our milk she should have all of it. 

Losing no time in carrying my intentions into effect, I 
crept into the dairy as soon as the dairymaid had brought 
in the afternoon's milking. There it was, still frothing and 
bubbling in three great bowls, and taking up the first of them 
in my little thin arms goodness knows how I made straight 
for my mother 's room. 

But hardly had I climbed half-way up the stairs, puffing 
and panting under my burden, when I met Nessy MacLeod 
coming down, and she fell on me with her usual reproaches. 

' ' Mary O 'Neill, you wilful, underhand little vixen, whatever 
are you doing with the milk ? ' ' 

Being in no mood for explanations I tried to push past, but 
Xessy prevented me. 

"No, indeed, you shan't go a step further. What will 
your Aunt Bridget say? Take the milk back, miss, this very 
minute. ' ' 

Nessy 's loud protest brought Betsy Beauty out of the dining- 
room, and in a moment my cousin, looking more than ever 
like a painted doll in her white muslin dress with a large 
blue bow in her yellow hair, had run upstairs to assist her 
step-sister. 

I was now between the two, the one above and the other 
below, and they laid hold of my bowl to take it from me. 
They tugged and I resisted and there was a struggle in which 
the milk was in danger of being spilled. 

' ' She 's a stubborn little thing and she ought to be whipped, ' ' 
cried Nessy. 

' ' She 's stealing my milk, and I '11 tell mamma, ' ' said Betsy. 

' ' Tell her then, ' ' I cried, and in a burst of anger at finding 
myself unable to recover control of my bowl I swept it round 
and flung its contents over my cousin's head, thereby drench- 
ing her with the frothing milk and making the staircase to 
run like a river of whitewash. 



MY GIRLHOOD 19 

Of course there was a fearful clamour. Betsy Beauty 
shrieked and Nessy bellowed, whereupon Aunt Bridget came 
racing from her parlour, while my mother, white and 
trembling, halted to the door of her room. 

' ' Mally, Mally, what have you done ? ' ' cried my mother, but 
Aunt Bridget found no need of questions. After running 
upstairs to her dripping daughter, wiping her down with a 
handkerchief, calling her "my poor darling," and saying, 
"Didn't I tell you to have nothing more to do with that 
little vixen?" she fell on my mother with bitter up- 
braidings. 

' ' Isabel, I hope you see now what your minx of a child is 
the little spiteful fury!" 

By this time I had dropped my empty bowl on the stairs 
and taken refuge behind my mother's gown, but I heard 
her timid voice trying to excuse me, and saying something 
about my cousin and a childish quarrel. 

' ' Childish quarrel, indeed ! ' ' cried my Aunt ; ' ' there 's noth- 
ing childish about that little imp, nothing. And what's jmore, 
I shall be obliged to you, Isabel, if you will never again have 
the assurance to speak of my Betsy Beauty in the same breath 
with a child of yours. ' ' 

That was more than I could bear. My little heart was 
afire at the humiliation put upon my mother. So stepping 
out to the head of the stairs, I shouted down in my shrillest 
treble : 

"Your Betsy Beauty is a wicked devil, and I wouldn't trust 
but she '11 burn in hell!" 

Never, to the last hour of my life, shall I forget the effect 
of that pronouncement. One moment Aunt Bridget stood 
speechless in the middle of the stairs, as if all breath had 
been broken out of her. Then, ghastly white and without 
a word, she came flying up at me, and, before I could recover 
my usual refuge, she caught me, slapped me on the cheek 
and boxed both my ears. 

I do not remember if I cried, but I know my mother did, 
and that in the midst of the general tumult my father came 
out of his room and demanded in a loud voice, which seemed 
to shake the whole house, to be told what was going on. 

Aunt Bridget told him, with various embellishments, which 
my mother did not attempt to correct, and then, knowing 
she was in the wrong, she began to wipe her eyes with her 



20 THE WOMAN THOU G A VEST ME 

wet handkerchief, and to say she could not live any longer 
where a child was encouraged to insult her. 

' ' I have to leave this house I have to leave it to-morrow, ' ' 
she said. 

"You don't have to do no such thing," cried my father. 
"But I'm just crazy to see if a man can't be captain in his 
own claim. These children must go to school. They must 
all go the darned lot of 'em. ' ' 

SIXTH CHAPTER 

BEFORE I speak of what happened at school, I must say how 
and when I first became known to the doctor's boy. 

It was during the previous Christmastide. On Christmas 
Eve I awoke in the dead of night with the sense of awakening 
in another world. The church-bells were ringing, and there 
was singing outside our house, under the window of my 
mother's room. After listening for a little while I made my 
voice as soft as I could and said : 

"Mamma, what is it?" 

"Hush, dear! It is the "Waits. Lie still and listen," said 
my mother. 

I lay as long as my patience would permit, and then creeping 
over to the window I saw a circle of men and women, with 
lanterns, and the frosty air smoking about their red faces. 
After a while they stopped singing, and then the chain of our 
front door rattled, and I heard my father's loud voice asking 
the singers into the bouse. 

They came in, and when I was back in bed, I heard them 
talking and then laughing in the room below, with Aunt 
Bridget louder than all the rest, and when I asked what she 
was doing my mother told me she was serving out bunloaf 
and sherry-wine. 

I fell asleep before the incident was over, but as soon as I 
awoke in the morning I conceived the idea of singing the Waits 
myself. Being an artful little thing I knew that my plan 
would be opposed, so I said nothing about it, but I got my 
mother to play and sing the carol I had heard overnight, 
until my quick ear had mastered both tune and words, and 
when darkness fell on Christmas night I proceeded to carry 
out my intention. 

In the heat of my impatience I forgot to put on cloak or hat, 
and stealing ou,t of the house I found myself in the carriage 



MY GIRLHOOD 21 

drive with nothing on but a pair of thin slippers and the velvet 
frock that left my neck and arms so bare. It was snowing, and 
the snow-flakes were whirling round me and making me dizzy, 
for in the light from my mother's window they seemed to 
come up from the ground as well as down from the sky. 

When I got out of the light of the window, it was very dark, 
and I could only see that the chestnuts in the drive seemed 
to have white blankets on them which looked as if they had 
been hung out to dry. It was a long time before I got to the 
gate, and then I had begun to be nervous and to have half a 
mind to turn back. But the thought of the bunloaf and the 
sherry-wine buoyed me up, and presently I found myself on 
the high road, crossing a bridge and turning down a lane that 
led to the sea, whose moaning a mile away was the only sound 
I could hear. 

I knew quite well where I was going to. I was going to the 
doctor's house. It was called Sunny Lodge, and it was on the 
edge of Yellow Gorse Farm. I had seen it more than once 
when I had driven out in the carriage with my mother, and had 
thought how sweet it looked with its whitewashed walls and 
brown thatched roof and the red and white roses which grew 
over the porch. 

I was fearfully cold before I got there. The snow was in my 
slippers and down my neck and among the thickening masses 
of my hair. At one moment I came upon some sheep and 
lambs that were sheltering under a hedge, and they bleated in 
the silence of the night. 

But at last I saw the warm red windows of the doctor's 
cottage, and coming to the wicket gate, I pushed it open 
though it was clogged with snow, and stepped up to the porch. 
My teeth were now chattering with cold, but as well as I 
could I began to sing, and in my thin and creachy voice I had 
got as far as 

"Ch'ist was born in Bef-lem, 
Ch'ist was born in Bef-lem, 
Ch'ist was born in Bef-lem, 
An' in a manger laid. . . .'* 

when I heard a rumbling noise inside the house. 

Immediately afterwards the door was opened upon me, 
and a woman whom I knew to be the doctor's wife looked 
down into my face with an expression of bewilderment, and 
then cried: 



22 THE WOMAN THOU GAVEST ME 

"Goodness gracious me, doctor if it isn't little Mary 
O'Neill, God bless her!" 

"Bring her in at once, then," said the voice of Doctor 
Conrad from within, and at the next moment I found myself 
in a sort of kitchen-parlour which was warm with a glowing 
turf fire that had a kettle singing over it, and cosy and bright 
with a ragwork hearth-rug, a dresser full of blue pottery and 
a sofa settle covered with red cloth. 

I suppose the sudden change to a warm room must have 
caused me to faint, for I have no recollection of what happened 
next, except that I was sitting on somebody's lap and that she 
was calling me boght millish (little sweet) and veg-veen (little 
dear) while she rubbed my half-frozen limbs and did other 
things that were, I am sure, all womanly and good. 

When I came to myself Doctor Conrad was saying I would 
have to sleep there that night, and he must go over to the 
Big House and tell my mother what had happened. He went, 
and by the time he came back, I had been bathed in a dolly-tub 
placed in front of the fire, and was being carried upstairs (in 
a nightdress many sizes too large for me) to a little dimity- 
white bedroom, where the sweet smelling "scraas" under the 
sloping thatch of the roof came down almost to my face. 

I know nothing of what happened during the night, except 
that I was feeling very hot, and that as often as I opened my 
eyes the doctor's wife was leaning over me and speaking in a 
soft voice that seemed far away. But next day I felt cooler 
and then Aunt Bridget came in her satin mantle and big black 
hat, and said something, while standing at the end of my bed, 
about people paying the penalty when they did things that 
were sly and underhand. 

Towards evening I was much easier, and when the doctor 
came in to see me at night he said : 

"How are we this evening? Ah, better, I see. Distinctly 
better!" 

And then turning to his wife he said : 

"No need to stay up with her to-night, Christian Ann." 

"But won't the boght miUish be afraid to be left alone?" 
she asked. 

I said I shouldn't, and she kissed me and told me to knock 
at the wall if I wanted anything. And then, with hej, hus- 
band's arm about her waist, the good soul left me to myself . 

I don't know how I knew, but I did know that that house 
was a home of love. I don 't know how I knew, but I did know, 



MY GIRLHOOD 23 

that that sweet woman, who had been the daughter of a well- 
to-do man, had chosen the doctor out of all the men in the 
world when he was only a medical student fresh from Germany 
or Switzerland. I don't know how I knew, but I did know, 
that leaving father and mother and a sheltered home she had 
followed her young husband when he first came to Elian with- 
out friends or connections, and though poor then and poor still, 
she had never regretted it. I don't know how I knew, but I 
did know, that all this was the opposite of what had happened 
to my own dear mother, who having everything yet had nothing, 
while this good creature having nothing yet had all. 

SEVENTH CHAPTER 

WHEN I awoke next morning the sun was shining, and, after 
my hair had been brushed smooth over my forehead, I was 
sitting up in bed, eating for breakfast the smallest of bantam 
eggs with the smallest of silver spoons, when the door opened 
with a bang and a small figure tumbled into my room. 

It was a boy, two years older than myself. He wore a grey 
Norfolk jacket and knickerbockers, but the peculiarity of his 
dress was a white felt hat of enormous size, which, being 
soiled and turned down in the brim, and having a hole in the 
crown with a crop of his brown hair sticking through it, gave 
him the appearance of a damaged mushroom. 

Except that on entering he tipped up his head so that I saw 
his face, which was far from beautiful and yet had two big blue 
eyes as blue as the bluest sea he took no notice of my 
presence, but tossed a somersault in the middle of the floor, 
screwed his legs over the back of a chair, vaulted over a table 
and finally stood on his hands with his legs against the wall 
opposite to my bed, and his inverted countenance close to 
the carpet. 

In this position, in which he was clearly making a point of 
remaining as long as possible, while his face grew very red, we 
held our first conversation. I had hitherto sat propped up as 
quiet as a mouse, but now I said : 

"Little boy, what's your name?" 

"Mart," was the answer. 

"Where do you come from?" 

"Spitzbergen." 

I cannot remember that this intelligence astonished me, for 
when the inverted face had become scarlet, and the legs went 



24 THE WOMAN THOU GAVEST ME 

down and the head came up, and my visitor tossed several 
somersaults over the end of my bed, to the danger of my 
breakfast tray, and then, without a word more, tumbled out 
of the room, I was still watching in astonishment. 

I did not know at that time that these were the ways which 
since the beginning of the world have always been employed by 
savages and boys when they desire to commend themselves to 
the female of their kind, so that when the doctor's wife came 
smiling upstairs I asked her if the little boy who had been to 
see me was not quite well. 

"Bless you, yes, dear, but that's his way," she said, and then 
she told me all about him. 

His name was Martin Conrad and he was her only child. 
His hat, which had awakened my interest, was an old one of 
his father's, and it was the last thing he took off when he 
undressed for bed at night and the first thing he put on in the 
morning. When the hole came into its crown his mother had 
tried to hide it away but he had always found it, and when 
she threw it into the river he had fished it out again. 

He was the strangest boy, full of the funniest fancies. He 
used to say that before he was born he lived in a tree and was 
the fellow who turned on the rain. It was with difficulty that 
he could be educated, and every morning on being awakened, 
he said he was "sorry he ever started this going to school." 
As a consequence he could not read or write as well as other 
boys of his age, and his grammar was still that of the peasant 
people with whom he loved to associate. 

Chief among these was our gardener, old Tommy the Mate, 
who lived in a mud cabin on the shore and passed the doctor 's 
house on his way to work. Long ago Tommy had told the 
boy a tremendous story. It was about Arctic exploration and 
an expedition he had joined in search of Franklin. This had 
made an overpowering impression on Martin, who for months 
afterwards would stand waiting at the gate until Tommy was 
going by, and then say : 

"Been to the North Pole to-day, Tommy?" 

Whereupon Tommy's "starboard eye" would blink and he 
would answer: 

"Not to-day boy. I don't go to the North Pole iifbre nor 
twice a day now." 

"Don't you, though?" the boy would say, and this would 
happen every morning. 

But later on Martin conceived the idea that the North Pole 



MY GIRLHOOD 25 

was the locality immediately surrounding his father's house, 
and every day he would set out on voyages of exploration 
over the garden, the road and the shore, finding, by his own 
account, a vast world of mysterious things and undiscovered 
places. By some means nobody knew how the boy who 
could not learn his lessons studied his father's German atlas, 
and there was not a name in it north of Spitzbergen which he 
had not got by heart. He transferred them all to Elian, so 
that the Sky Hill became Greenland, and the Black Head 
became Franz Josef Land, and the Nun 's Well became Behring 
Strait, and Martha's Gullet became New Siberia, and St. 
Mary 's Rock, with the bell anchored on it, became the pivot of 
the earth itself. 

He could swim like a fish and climb a rock like a lizard, and 
he kept a log-book, on the back pages of the Doctor's book of 
visits, which he called his "diarrhea." And now if you lost 
him you had only to look up to the ridge of the roof, or perhaps 
on to the chimney stack, which he called his crow's nest, and 
there you found him, spying through his father's telescope and 
crying out : 

''Look-out ahead! Ice floes from eighty-six latitude four- 
teen point north, five knots to the larboard bow." 

His mother laughed until she cried when she told me all this, 
but there is no solemnity like that of a child, and to me it was 
a marvellous story. I conceived a deep admiration for the 
doctor's boy, and saw myself with eyes of worship walking 
reverently by his side. I suppose my poor lonely heart was 
hungering after comradeship, for being a sentimental little 
ninny I decided to offer myself to the doctor's boy as his sister. 

The opportunity was dreadfully long in coming. It did not 
come until the next morning, when the door of my room flew 
open with a yet louder bang than before, and the boy entered 
in a soap-box on wheels, supposed to be a sledge, and drawn 
by a dog, an Irish terrier, which being red had been called 
William Rufus. His hat was tied over his ears with a tape 
from his mother's apron, and he wore a long pair of his father's 
knitted stockings which covered his boots and came up to 
his thighs. 

He did not at first take any more notice of me than on the 
previous day, but steering his sledge round the room he shouted 
to his dog that the chair by the side of my bed was a glacier 
and the sheep-skin rug was floating ice. 

After a while we began to talk, and then, thinking my time 



26 THE WOMAN THOU GAVEST ME 

had come, I tried to approach my subject. Being such a clever 
little woman I went artfully to work, speaking first about 
my father, my mother, my cousin, Nessy MacLeod, and even 
Aunt Bridget, with the intention of showing how rich I was 
in relations, so that he might see how poor he was himself. 

I felt myself a bit of a hypocrite in all this, but the doctor's 
boy did not know that, and I noticed that as I passed my 
people in review he only said "Is she any good?" or "Is he 
a stunner?" 

At length my great moment came and with a fluttering 
heart I took it. 

"Haven't you got a sister?" I said. 

"Not me!" said the doctor's boy, with a dig of emphasis 
on the last word which cut me to the quick. 

"Wouldn't you like to have one?" 

"Sisters isn't no good," said the doctor's boy, and he 
instanced "chaps" at school Jimmy Christopher and others 
whose sisters were afraid of everything lobsters and crabs 
and even the sea. 

I knew I was as timid as a hare myself, but my lonely little 
heart was beginning to bleed, and as well as I could for my 
throat which was choking me, I said : 

"I'm not afraid of the sea not crabs neither. " 

In a moment the big mushroom hat was tipped aside and 
the sea-blue eyes looked aslant at me. 

"Isn't you, though?" 

"No." 

That did it. I could see it did. And when a minute after- 
wards, I invited the doctor 's boy into bed, he came in, stockings 
and all, and sat by my right side, while William Rufus, who had 
formed an instant attachment for me, lay on my left with his 
muzzle on my lap. 

Later the same day, my bedroom door being open, so that 
I might call downstairs to the kitchen, I heard the doctor's 
boy telling his mother what I was. I was a ' ' stunner. ' ' 

EIGHTH CHAPTER 

FROM that day forward the doctor's boy considered that I be- 
longed to him, but not until I was sent to school, with my cousin 
and her stepsister, did he feel called upon to claim his property, 
It was a mixed day-school in the village, and it was con- 
trolled by a Board which had the village butcher as its chair- 



MY GIRLHOOD 27 

man. The only teacher was a tall woman of thirty, who plaited 
her hair, which was of the colour of flax, into a ridiculous- 
looking crown on the top of her head. But her expression, I 
remember, was one of perpetual severity, and when she spoke 
through her thin lips she clipped her words with great rapidity, 
as if they had been rolls of bread which were being chopped in 
a charity school. 

Afterwards I heard that she owed her position to Aunt 
Bridget, who had exercised her influence through the chair- 
man, by means of his account with the Big House. Perhaps 
she thought it her duty to display her gratitude. Certainly 
she lost no time in showing me that my character had gone 
to school before me, for in order that I might be directly 
under her eye, she placed me in the last seat in the lowest 
class, although my mother's daily teaching would have entitled 
me to go higher. 

I dare say I was, as Father Dan used to say, as full of 
mischief as a goat, and I know I was a chatterbox, but I do 
not think I deserved the fate that followed. 

One day, not more than a week after we had been sent to 
school, I held my slate in front of my face while I whispered 
something to the girl beside and the girl behind me. Both 
began to titter. 

"Silence!" cried the schoolmistress, who was sitting at her 
desk, but I went on whispering and the girls began to choke 
with laughter. 

I think the schoolmistress must have thought I was saying 
something about herself making game, perhaps, of her per- 
sonal appearance for after a moment she said, in her rapid 
accents : 

"Mary O'Neill, please repeat what you have just been 
saying. ' ' 

I held my slate yet closer to my face and made no answer. 

"Don't you hear, miss? Speak! You've a tongue in your 
head, haven't you?" 

But still I did not answer, and then the schoolmistress said : 

"Mary O'Neill, come forward." 

She had commanded me like a dog, and like a dog I was 
about to obey when I caught sight of Betsy Beauty's face, 
which, beaming with satisfaction, seemed to be saying : ' ' Now, 
we shall see. ' ' 

I would not stir after that, and the schoolmistress, leaving 



28 

her desk, came towards me, and looking darkly into my face, 
said: 

"You wilful little vixen, do you think you can trifle with 
me ? Come out, miss, this very moment. ' ' 

I knew where that language came from, so I made no 
morement. 

"Don't you hear? Or do you suppose that because you 
are pampered and spoiled by a foolish person at home, you 
can defy msf" 

That reflection on my mother settled everything. I sat 
as rigid as a rock. 

Then pale as a whitewashed wall, and with her thin lips 
tightly compressed, the schoolmistress took hold of me to drag 
me out of my seat, but with my little nervous fingers I clung 
to the desk in front of me, and as often as she tore one of my 
hands open the other fixed itself afresh. 

4 'You minx! "We'll see who's mistress here. . . . Will 
none of you big girls come and help me ? " 

With the utmost alacrity one big girl from a back bench 
came rushing to the schoolmistress' assistance. It was Nessy 
MacLeod, and together, after a fierce struggle, they tore me 
from my desk, like an ivy branch from a tree, and dragged 
me into the open space in front of the classes. By this time 
the schoolmistress ' hands, and I think her neck were scratched, 
and from that cause also she was quivering with passion. 

"Stand there, miss," she said, "and move from that spot 
at your peril. " 

My own fury was now spent, and in the dead silence which 
had fallen on the entire school, I was beginning to feel the 
shame of my ignominious position. 

"Children," cried the schoolmistress, addressing the whole 
of the scholars, "put down your slates and listen." 

Then, as soon as she had recovered her breath she said, 
standing by my side and pointing down to me : 

"This child came to school with the character of a wilful, 
wicked little vixen, and she has not belied her character. By 
gross disobedience she has brought herself to where you 
see her. 'Spare the rod, spoil the child. ' is a scriptural maxim, 
and the foolish parents who ruin their children by over- 
indulgence deserve all that comes to them. But there is no 
reason why other people should suffer, and, small as this child 
is she has made the life of her excellent aunt intolerable by 
her unlovable, unsociable, and unchildlike disposition. Chil- 



MY GIRLHOOD 29 

dren, she was sent to school to be corrected of her faults, 
and I order you to stop your lessons while sh is publicly 
punished. . . ." 

With this parade of the spirit of justice, the schoolmistress 
stepped back and left me. I knew what she was doing she 
was taking her cane out of her desk which stood by the wall. 
I heard the desk opened with an impatient clash and then 
closed with an angry bang. I was as sure as if I had had eyes 
in the back of my head, that the schoolmistress was holding 
the cane in both hands and bending it to see if it was lithe 
and limber. 

I felt utterly humiliated. Standing there with all eyes upon 
me I was conscious of the worst pain that enters into a child's 
experience the pain of knowing that other children are looking 
upon her degradation. I thought of Aunt Bridget and 
my little heart choked with anger. Then I thought of my 
mother and my throat throbbed with shame. I remembered 
what my mother had said of her little Mary being always a 
little lady, and I felt crushed at the thought that I was about 
to be whipped before 1 all the village children. 

At home I had been protected if only by my mother's tears, 
but here I was alone, and felt myself to be so little and helpless. 
But just as my lip was beginning to drop, at the thought 
of what my mother would suffer if she saw me in this position 
of infamy, and I was about to cry out to the schoolmistress : 
"Don't beat me! Oh! please don't beat me!" a strange 
thing happened, which turned my shame into surprise and 
triumph. 

5 Through the mist which had gathered before my eyes I 
saw a boy coming out of the boys ' class at the end of the long 
room. It was Martin Conrad, and I remember that he rolled 
as he walked like old Tommy the gardener. Everybody saw 
him, and the schoolmistress said in her sharp voice : 

"Martin Conrad, what right have you to leave your place 
without permission? Go back, sir, this very moment." 

Instead of going back Martin came on, and as he did so he 
dragged his big soft hat out of the belt of his Norfolk jacket 
and with both hands pulled it down hard on his head. 

"Go back, sir!" cried the schoolmistress, and I s&w her 
step towards him with the cane poised and switching in the 
air. as if about to strike. 

The boy said nothing, but just shaking himself like a big 
dog he dropped his head and butted at the schoolmistress 



30 THE WOMAN THOU GAVEST ME 

as she approached him, struck her somewhere in the waist 
and sent her staggering and gasping against the wall. 

Then, without a word, he took my hand, as something that 
belonged to him, and before the schoolmistress could recover 
her breath, or the scholars awake from their astonishment, 
he marched me, as if his little stocky figure had been sixteen 
feet tall, in stately silence out of the school. 

NINTH CHAPTER 

I WAS- never sent back to school, and I heard that Martin, by 
order of the butcher, was publicly expelled. This was a cause 
of distress to our mothers, who thought the future of our lives 
had been permanently darkened, but I cannot say that it 
ever stood between us and our sunshine. On the contrary 
it occurred that Aunt Bridget having washed her hands of 
me, and Martin's father being unable to make up his mind 
what to do with him we found ourselves for some time at 
large and were nothing loth to take advantage of our liberty, 
until a day came which brought a great disaster. 

One morning I found Martin with old Tommy the Mate 
in his potting-shed, deep in the discussion of their usual 
subject the perils and pains of Arctic exploration, when you 
have little food in your wallet and not too much in your 
stomach. 

' ' But you has lots of things when you gets there hams and 
flitches and oranges and things hasn't you?" said Martin. 

"Never a ha'p'orth," said Tommy. "Nothing but glory. 
You just takes your Alping stock and your sleeping sack 
and your bit o ' biscuit and away you go over crevaxes deeper 
nor Martha's gullet and mountains higher nor Mount Blank 
and never think o' nothing but doing something that nobody's 
never done before. My goodness, yes, boy, that's the way of 
it when you 're out asploring. ' Glory 's waiting for me ' says 
you, and on you go." 

At that great word I saw Martin's blue eyes glisten like 
the sea when the sun is shining on it; and then, seeing me 
for the first time, he turned back to old Tommy and said : 

"I s'pose you lets women go with you when you're out 
asploring women and girls?" 

' ' Never a woman, ' ' said Tommy. 

"Not never not if they're stunners?" said Martin. 

"Well," says Tommy, glancing down at me, while his 



MY GIRLHOOD 31 

starboard eye twinkled, "I won't say never not if they're 
stunners. ' ' 

Next day Martin, attended by William Rufus, arrived at our 
house with a big corn sack on his shoulder, a long broom-handle 
in his hand, a lemonade bottle half filled with milk, a large 
sea biscuit and a small Union Jack which came from the 
confectioner's on the occasion of his last birthday. 

"Glory's waiting for me come along, shipmate," he said 
in a mysterious whisper, and without a word of inquiry, I 
obeyed. 

He gave me the biscuit and I put it in the pocket of my 
frock, and the bottle of milk, and I tied it to my belt, and then 
off we went, with the dog bounding before us. 

I knew he was going to the sea, and my heart was in my 
mouth, for of all the things I was afraid of I feared the sea 
most a terror born with me, perhaps, on the fearful night 
of my birth. But I had to live up to the character I had 
given myself when Martin became my brother, and the one 
dread of my life was that, finding me as timid as other girls, 
he might want me no more. 

"We reached the sea by a little bay, called Murphy's Mouth, 
which had a mud cabin that stood back to the cliff and a small 
boat that was moored to a post on the shore. Both belonged 
to Tommy the Mate, who was a "widow man" living alone, 
and therefore there were none to see us when we launched 
the boat and set out on our voyage. It was then two o'clock 
in the afternoon, the sun was shining, and the tide, which 
was at the turn, was beginning to flow. 

I had never been in a boat before, but I dared not say 
anything about that, and after Martin had fixed the bow 
oar for me and taken the stroke himself, I spluttered and 
plunged and made many blunders. I had never been on the 
sea either, and almost as soon as we shot clear of the shore and 
were lifted on to the big waves, I began to feel dizzy, and 
dropped my oar, with the result that it slipped through the 
rollocks and was washed away. Martin saw what had happened 
as we swung round to his rowing, but when I expected him 
to scold me, he only said : 

"Never mind, shipmate! I was just thinking we would 
do better with one," and, shipping his own oar in the stern 
of the boat, he began to scull. 

My throat was hurting me, and partly from shame and 
partly from fear, I now sat forward, with William Rufus on 



32 THE WOMAN THOU GAVEST ME 

my lap, and said as little as possible. But Martin was in 
high spirits, and while his stout little body rolled to the rocking 
of the boat he whistled and sang and shouted messages to me 
over his shoulder. 

"My gracious! Isn't this what you call ripping?" he 
cried, and though my teeth were chattering, I answered that 
it was. 

"Some girls Jimmy Christopher's sister and Nessy Mac- 
Leod and Betsy Beauty would be frightened to come asplor- 
ing, wouldn't they?" 

"Wouldn't they?" I said, and I laughed, though I was 
trembling down to the soles of my shoes. 

We must have been half an hour out, and the shore seemed 
so far away that Murphy's Mouth and Tommy's cabin and 
even the trees of the Big House looked like something I had 
seen through the wrong end of a telescope, when he turned 
his head, with a wild light in his eyes, and said : 

"See the North Pole out yonder?" 

"Don't I?" I answered, though I was such a practical little 
person, and had not an ounce of "dream" in me. 

I knew quite well where he was going to. He was going 
to St. Mary's Rock, and of all the places on land or sea, it was 
the place I was most afraid of, being so big and frowning, an 
ugly black mass, standing twenty to thirty feet out of the 
water, draped like a coffin in a pall, with long fronds of sea- 
weed, and corered, save at high water, by a multitude of hungry 
sea-fowl. 

A white cloud of the birds rose from their sleep as we 
approached, and wheeled and whistled and screamed and beat 
their wings over our heads. I wanted to scream too, but 
Martin said: 

"My gracious, isn't this splendiferous?" 

"Isn't it?" I answered, and, little hypocrite that I was, I 
began to sing. 

I remember that I sang one of Tommy's sailor-songs, 
"Sail/," because its jolly doggerel was set to such a jaunty 
tuna 

"Oh Satty's the gel for me, 
Our Sally 's the gel for me, 
I'll marry the gel that I love best 
When I come back from sea." 



MY GIRLHOOD 33 

My pretence of happiness was shortlived, for at the next 
moment I made another mistake. Drawing up his boat to 
a ledge of the rock, and laying hold of our painter, Martin 
leapt ashore, and then held out his hand to me to follow him, 
but in fear of a big wave I held back when I ought to have 
jumped, and he was -drenched from head to foot. I was 
ashamed, and thought he would have scolded me, but he only 
shook himself and said : 

"That's nothing! We don't mind a bit of wet when we're 
out asploring. ' ' 

My throat was hurting me again and I could not speak, but 
without waiting for me to answer he coiled the rope about my 
right arm, and told me to stay where I was, and hold fast 
to the boat, while he climbed the rock and took possession of it 
in the name ef the king. 

"Do or die we allus does that when we're out asploring," 
he said, and with his sack over his shoulder, his broom-handle 
in his hand and his little Union Jack sticking out of the hole 
in the crown of his hat, he clambered up the crag and disap- 
peared over the top of it. 

Being left alone, for the dog had followed him, my nervous- 
ness increased tenfold, and thinking at last that the rising 
tide was about to submerge the ledge on which I stood, I tried 
in my fright to climb the cliff. But hardly had I taken three 
steps when my foot slipped and I clutched the seaweed to save 
myself from falling, with the result that the boat's rope slid 
from my arm, and went rip-rip-ripping down the rock until 
it fell with a splash into the sea. 

I saw what I had done, and I screamed, and then Martin's 
head appeared after a moment on the ledge above me. But 
it was too late for him to do anything, for the boat had already 
drifted six yards away, and just when I thought he would 
have shrieked at me for cutting off our only connection with the 
shore, he said: 

"Never mind, shipmate! We allus expecs to lose a boat or 
two when we're out asploring." 

I was silent from shame, but Martin, having hauled me up 
the rock by help of the broom handle, rattled away as if 
nothing had happened pointing proudly to a rust-eaten 
triangle with a bell suspended inside of it and his little flag 
floating on top. 

"But, oh dear, what are we to do now?" I whimpered. 



34 THE WOMAN THOU GAVEST ME 

' ' Don 't you worrit about that, ' ' he said. ' ' We 11 just signal 
back to the next base we call them bases when we're out 
asploring. ' ' 

I understood from this that he was going to ring the bell 
which, being heard on the land, would bring somebody to our 
relief. But the bell was big, only meant to be put in motion 
on stormy nights by the shock and surging of an angry sea, 
and when Martin had tied a string to its tongue it was a feeble 
sound he struck from it. 

Half an hour passed, an hour, two hours, and still I saw 
nothing on the water but our own empty boat rocking its way 
back to the shore. 

"Will they ever come?" I faltered. 

"Ra ther! Just you wait and you'll see them coming. 
And when they take us ashore there'll be crowds and crowds 
with bugles and bands and things to take us home. My good- 
ness, yes," he said, with the same wild look, "hundreds and 
tons of them!" 

But the sun set over the sea behind us, the land in front 
grew dim, the moaning tide rose around the quaking rock and 
even the screaming sea-fowl deserted us, and still there was 
no sign of relief. My heart was quivering through my clothes 
by this time, but Martin, who had whistled and sung, began to 
talk about being hungry. 

"My goodness yes, I'm that hungry I could eat. ... I 
could eat a dog we allus eats our dogs when we're out 
asploring. ' ' 

This reminded me of the biscuit, but putting my hand to 
the pocket of my frock I found to my dismay that it was gone, 
having fallen out, perhaps, when I slipped in my climbing. 
My lip fell and I looked up at him with eyes of fear, but he 
only said: 

"No matter! We never minds a bit of hungry when we're 
out asploring." 

I did not know then, what now I know, that my little boy 
who could not learn his lessons and had always been in disgrace, 
was a born gentleman, but my throat was thick and my 
eyes were swimming and to hide my emotion I pretended 
to be ill. 

"I know," said Martin. "Dizzingtory ! [dysentery]. We 
allus has dizzingtory when we're out asploring." 

There was one infallible cure for that, though milk ! 



' ' I allus drinks a drink of milk, and away goes the dizzing- 
tory in a jiffy." 

This recalled the bottle, but when I twisted it round on 
my belt, hoping to make amends for the lost biscuit, I found 
to my confusion that it had suffered from the same misad- 
venture, being cracked in the bottom, and every drop of the 
contents gone. 

That was the last straw, and the tears leapt to my eyes, 
but Martin went on whistling and singing and ringing the big 
bell as if nothing had happened. 

The darkness deepened, the breath of night came sweeping 
over the sea, the boom of the billows on the rock became still 
more terrible, and I began to shiver. 

"The sack!" cried Martin. "We allus sleeps in sacks when 
we 're out asploring. ' ' 

I let him do what he liked with me now, but when he had 
packed me up in the sack, and put me to lie at the foot of the 
triangle, telling me I was as right as ninepence, I began to 
think of something I had read in a storybook, and half choking 
with sobs I said : 

"Martin!" 

"What now, shipmate?" 

"It's all my fault . . . and I'm just as frightened as 
Jimmy Christopher's sister and Nessy MacLeod and Betsy 
Beauty . . . and I'm not a stunner . . . and you'll 
have to give me up ... and leave me here and save your- 
self and . . ." 

But Martin stopped me with a shout and a crack of laughter. 

"Not me! Not much! We never leaves a pal when 
we're out asploring. Long as we lives we never does it. Not 
never! " 

That finished me. I blubbered like a baby, and William 
Rufus, who was sitting by my side, lifted his nose and joined 
in my howling. 

What happened next I never rightly knew. I was only 
aware, though my back was to him, that Martin, impatient 
of his string, had leapt up to the bell and was swinging his 
little body from the tongue to make a louder clamour. One 
loud clang I heard, and then came a crash and a crack, and 
then silence. 

"What is it?" I cried, but at first there was no answer. 

"Have you hurt yourself?" 

And then through the thunderous boom of the rising sea 



36 THE WOMAN THOU GAVEST ME 

on the rock, came the breaking voice of my boy (he had 
broken his right arm) mingled with the sobs which his mi- 
conquered and unconquerable little soul was struggling to 
suppress 

"We nerer minds a bit of hurt ... we never minds 
nothing when we 're out asploring ! ' ' 

Meantime on shore there was a great commotion. My 
father wa railing at Aunt Bridget, who was upbraiding 
my mother, who was crying for Father Dan, who was flying 
off for Doctor Conrad, who was putting his horse into his 
gig and scouring the parish in search of the two lost 
children. 

But Tommj the Mate, who remembered the conversation 
in the potting-shed and thought he heard the tinkle of a 
bell at sea, hurried off to the shore, where he found his 
boat bobbing on the beach, and thereby came to his own 
conclusions. 

By the light of a lantern he pulled out to St. Mary's Rock, 
and there, guided by the howling of the dog, he came upon 
the great little explorers, hardly more than three feet above 
high water, lying together in the corn sack, locked in each 
other's arms and fast asleep. 

There were no crowds and bands of music waiting for us 
when Tommy brought us ashore, and after leaving Martin 
with his broken limb in his mother 's arms at the gate of Sunny 
Lodge, he took me over to the Presbytery in order that Father 
Dan might carry me home and so stand between me and my 
father's wrath and Aunt Bridget's birch. 

Unhappily there was no need for this precaution. The 
Big House, when we reached it, was in great confusion. My 
mother had broken a blood vessel. 

TENTH CHAPTER 

DUBING the fortnight in which my mother was confined to bed 
I was her constant companion and attendant. With the mighty 
eagerness of a child who knew nothing of what the solemn 
time foreboded I flew about the house on tiptoe, fetching my 
mother's medicine and her milk and the ice to cool it, and 
always praising myself for my industry and thinking I was 
quite indispensable. 

"You couldn't do without your little Mally, could you, 



MY GIRLHOOD 37 

mammy?" I would say, and my mother would smooth my 
hair lovingly with her thin white hand and answer : 

"No, indeed, I couldn't do without my little Mally." And 
then my little bird-like beak would rise proudly in the air. 

All this tune I saw nothing of Martin, and only heard 
through Doctor Conrad in his conversations with my mother, 
that the boy's broken arm had been set, and that as soon as it 
was better, he was to be sent to King George's College, which 
was at the other end of Elian. What was to be done with 
myself I never inquired, being so satisfied that my mother 
could not get on without me. 

I was partly aware that big letters, bearing foreign postage- 
stamps and seals and coats of arms, with pictures of crossei 
and hearts, were coming to our house. I was also aware that 
at intervals, while my mother was in bed, there was the sound 
of voices, as if in eager and sometimes heated conference, in 
the room below, and that my mother would raise her pale 
face from her pillow and stop my chattering with "Hush!" 
when my father's voice was louder and sterner than usual. 
But it never occurred to me to connect these incidents with 
myself, until the afternoon of the day on which my mother got 
up for the first time. 

She was sitting before the fire, for autumn was stealing on, 
and I was bustling about her, fixing the rug about her knees 
and telling her if she wanted anything she was to be sure and 
call her little Mally, when a timid knock came to the door 
and Father Dan entered the room. I can see his fair head and 
short figure still, and hear his soft Irish voice, as he stepped 
forward and said: 

"Now don't worry,. my daughter. Above all, don't worry." 

By long experience my mother knew this for a iign of the 
dear Father's own perturbation, and I saw her lower lip 
tremble as she asked: 

* ' Hadn 't Mary better run down to the garden ? ' ' 

"No! Oh no!" said Father Dan. "It is about Mary I 
come to speak, so our little pet may as well remain." 

Then at a signal from my mother I went over to her and 
stood by her side, and she embraced my waist with a trembling 
arm, while the Father took a seat by her side, and, fumbling 
the little silver cross on his chain, delivered his message. 

After long and anxious thought and he might tay prayer 
it had been decided that I should be sent away to a Conrent. 
It was to be a Convent of the Sacred Heart in Borne. He was 



38 THE WOMAN THOU GAVEST ME 

to take me to Rome himself and see me safely settled there. 
And they (meaning my father and Aunt Bridget) had prom- 
ised him faithfully promised him that when the holidays 
came round he should be sent to bring me home again. So 
there was nothing to fear, nothing to worry about, nothing 
to ... to ... 

My mother listened as long as she could, and then her 
beautiful white face distorted by pain she broke in on the 
Father's message with a cry of protest. 

"But she is so young! Such a child! Only seven years 
old ! How can any one think of sending such a little one away 
from home ? ' ' 

Father Dan tried to pacify her. It was true I was very 
young, but then the Reverend Mother was such a good 
woman. She would love me and care for me as if I were her 
own child. And then the good nuns, God bless their holy 
souls . . . 

"But Mary is all I have," cried my mother, "and if they 
take her away from me I shall be broken-hearted. At such a 
time too ! How cruel they are ! They know quite well what 
the doctor says. Can 't they wait a little longer? ' ' 

I could see that Father Dan was arguing against himself, 
for his eyes filled as he said : 

"It's hard, I know it's hard for you, my daughter. But 
perhaps it's best for the child that she should go away from 
home perhaps it's all God's blessed and holy will. Remember 
there 's a certain person here who isn 't kind to our little 
innocent, and is making her a cause of trouble. Not that I 
think she is actuated by evil intentions . . ." 

"But she is, she is," cried my mother, who was growing 
more and more excited. 

"Then all the more reason why Mary should go to the 
Convent for a time at all events." 

My mother began to waver, and she said: 

"Let her be sent to a Convent in the island then. " 

"I thought of that, but there isn't one," said Father Dan. 

' ' Then . . . then . . . then take her to the Presby- 
tery," said my mother. "Dear, dear Father," she pleaded, 
"let her live with you, and have somebody to teach her, and 
then she can come to see me every day, or twice a week, or 
even once a week I am not unreasonable." 

' ' It would be beautiful, ' ' said Father Dan, reaching over to 
touch my arm. "To have our little Mary in my dull old house 



MY GIRLHOOD 39 

would be like having the sun there always. But there are 
reasons why a young girl should not be brought up in the home 
of a priest, so it is better that our little precious should go 
to Rome." 

My mother was breaking down and Father Dan followed 
up his advantage. 

' ' Then wisha, my daughter, think what a good thing it will 
be for the child. She will be one of the children of the Infant 
Jesus first, then a child of Mary, and then of the Sacred Heart 
itself. And then remember, Rome! The holy city! The 
city of the Holy Father ! Why, who knows, she may even see 
himself some day ! ' ' 

"Yes, yes, I know," said my mother, and then turning with 
her melting eyes to me she said : 

' ' Would my Mary like to go leaving her mamma but coming 
home in the holidays would she ? ' ' 

I was going to say I would not, because mamma could not 
possibly get on without me, but before I could reply Aunt 
Bridget, with her bunch of keys at her waist, came jingling 
into the room, and catching my mother's last words, said, in 
her harsh, high-pitched voice. 

' ' Isabel ! You astonish me ! To defer to the will of a child ! 
Such a child too! So stubborn and spoiled and self-willed! 
If we say it is good for her to go she must go ! " 

I could feel through my mother's arm, which was still about 
my waist, that she was trembling from head to foot, but at 
first she did not speak and Aunt Bridget, in her peremptory 
way, went on : 

"We say it is good for you, too, Isabel, if she is not to 
hasten your death by preying on your nerves and causing you 
to break more blood vessels. So we are consulting your welfare 
as well as the girl's in sending her away." 

My mother 's timid soul could bear no more. I think it must 
have been the only moment of anger her gentle spirit ever 
knew, but, gathering all her strength, she turned upon Aunt 
Bridget in ungovernable excitement. 

"Bridget," she said, "you are doing nothing of the kind. 
You know you are not. You are only trying to separate me 
from my child and my child from me. When you came to my 
house I thought you would be kinder to my child than any- 
body else, but you have not been, you have been cruel to her, 
and shut your heart against her, and while I have been helpless 
here, and in bed, you have never shown her one moment of 



40 THE WOMAN THOU GAVEST ME 

love and kindness. No, you have no feeling except for your 
own, and it never occurs to you that having brought your own 
child into my house you are trying to turn my child out 
of it." 

"So that's how you look at it, is it?" said Aunt Bridget, 
with a flash of her cold grey eyes. "I thought I came to 
this house your house as you call it only out of the best 
intentions, just to spare you trouble when you were ill and 
unable to attend to your duties as a wife. But because I cor- 
rect your child when she is wilful and sly and wicked. . . . " 

"Correct your own child, Bridget O'Neill!" cried my 
mother, "and leave mine to me. She's all I have and it isn't 
long I shall have her. You know quite well how much she 
has cost me, and that I haven 't had a very happy married life, 
but instead of helping me with her father . . . " 

"Say no more," said Aunt Bridget, "we don't want you 
to hurt yourself again, and to allow this ill-conditioned child 
to be the cause of another hemorrhage. ' ' 

"Bridget O'Neill," cried my mother, rising up from her 
chair, "you are a hard-hearted woman with a bad disposition. 
You know as well as I do that it wasn't Mary who made me ill, 
but you you, who reproached me and taunted me about my 
child until my heart itself had to bleed. For seven years you 
have been doing that, and now you are disposing of my darling 
over my head without consulting me. Has a mother no rights 
in her own child the child she has suffered for, and loved and 
lived for that other people who care nothing for it should 
take it away from her and send it into a foreign country where 
she may never see it again ? But you shall not do that ! No, 
you shall not ! As long as there 's breath in my body you shall 
not do it, and if you attempt . . ." 

In her wild excitement my mother had lifted one of her 
trembling hands into Aunt Bridget's face while the other was 
still clasped about me, when suddenly, with a look of fear on 
her face, she stopped speaking. She had heard a heavy step 
on the stairs. It was my father. He entered the room with his 
knotty forehead more compressed than usual and said : 

"What's this she shall not do?" 

My mother dropped back into her seat in silence, and Aunt 
Bridget, wiping her eyes on her black apron she only wept 
when my father was present proceeded to explain. 

"It seems I am a hard-hearted woman with a bad disposition 
and though I've been up early and late and made myself a 



MY GIRLHOOD 41 

servant for seven years I'm only in this house to turn my 
sister 's child out of it. It seems too, that we have no business 
none of us have to say what ought to be done for this girl 
her mother being the only person who has any rights in the 
child, and if we attempt . . ." 

"What's that!" 

In his anger and impatience my father could listen no 
longer and in his loud voice he said : 

' ' Since when has a father lost control of his own daughter ? 
He has to provide f 01 her, hasn 't he ? If she wants anything 
it's to him she has to look for it, isn't it? That's the law I 
guess, eh ? Always has been, all the world over. Then what 's 
all this hustling about?" 

My mother made a feeble effort to answer him. 

" I was only saying, Daniel . . ." 

"You were saying something foolish and stupid. I reckon 
a man can do what he likes with his own, can't he? If this 
girl is my child and I say she is to go somewhere, she is to go. " 
And saying this my father brought down his thick hand with a 
thump on to a table. 

It was the first time he had laid claim to me, and perhaps 
that acted on my mother, as she said, submissively : 

"Very well, dear. You know best what is best for Mary, 
and if you say you and Bridget and . . . and Father 
Dan . . ." 

"I do say, and that's enough. So just go to work and fix 
up this Convent scheme without future notice. And hark 
here, let me see for the future if a man can 't have peace from 
these two-cent trifles for his important business. ' ' 

My mother was crushed. Her lips moved again, but she 
said nothing aloud, and my father turned on his heel, and left 
the room, shaking the floor at every step under the weight 
of his sixteen stone. At the next moment, Aunt Bridget, 
jingling her keys, went tripping after him. 

Hardly had they gone when my mother broke into a long 
fit of coughing, and when it was over she lay back exhausted, 
with her white face and her tired eyes turned upwards. Then 
I clasped her about the neck, and Father Dan, whose cheeks 
were wet with tears patted her drooping hand. 

My darling mother! Never once have I thought of her 
without the greatest affection, but now that I know for myself 
what she must have suffered I love best to think of her as she 
was that day my sweet, beautiful, timid angel standing up 



42 THE WOMAN THOU GAVEST ME 

for one brief moment, not only against Aunt Bridget, but 
against the cruelty of all the ages, in the divine right of her 
outraged motherhood. 

ELEVENTH CHAPTER 

MY mother's submission was complete. Within twenty-four 
hours she was busy preparing clothes for my journey to Rome. 
The old coloured pattern book was brought out again, material 
was sent for, a sewing-maid was engaged from the village, and 
above all, in my view, an order was dispatched to Blackwater 
for a small squirrel-skin scarf, a large squirrel-skin muff, and 
a close-fitting squirrel-skin hat with a feather on the side of it. 

A child's heart is a running brook, and it would wrong the 
truth to say that I grieved much in the midst of these busy 
preparations. On the contrary I felt a sort of pride in them, 
poor innocent that I was, as in something that gave me a 
certain high superiority over Betsy Beauty and Nessy MacLeod, 
and entitled me to treat them with condescension. 

Father Dan, who came more frequently than ever, fostered 
this feeling without intending to do so, by telling me, when- 
ever we were alone, that I must be a good girl to everybody 
now, and especially to my mother. 

"My little woman would be sorry to worry mamma, wouldn't 
she ? " he would whisper, and when I answered that I would be 
sorrier than sorry, he would say : 

"Wisha then, she must be brave. She must keep up. She 
must not grieve about going away or cry when the time comes 
for parting." 

I said "y es " and "yes" to all this, feeling very confidential 
and courageous, but I dare say the good Father gave the same 
counsel to my mother also, for she and I had many games of 
make-believe, I remember, in which we laughed and chattered 
and sang, though I do not think I ever suspected that the part 
we played was easier to me than to her. 

It dawned on me at last, though, when in the middle of the 
night, near to the time of my going away, I was awakened by 
a bad fit of my mother's coughing, and heard her say to herself 
in. the deep breathing that followed: 

"My poor child! What is to become of her?" 

Nevertheless all went well down to the day of my departure. 
It had been arranged that I was to sail to Liverpool by the first 
of the two daily steamers, and without any awakening I leapt 



MY GIRLHOOD 43 

out of bed at the first sign of daylight. So great was my 
delight that I began to dance in my nightdress to an invisible 
skipping rope, forgetting my father, who always rose at dawn 
and was at breakfast in the room below. 

My mother and I breakfasted in bed, and then there was 
great commotion. It chiefly consisted for me in putting on 
my new clothes, including my furs, and then turning round 
and round on tiptoe and smiling at myself in a mirror. I 
was doing this while my mother was telling me to write to her 
as often as I was allowed, and while she knelt at her prayer- 
stool, which she used as a desk, to make a copy of the address 
for my letters. 

Then I noticed that the first line of her superscription ' ' Mrs. 
Daniel O'Neill" was blurred by the tears that were dropping 
from her eyes, and my throat began to hurt me dreadfully. 
But I remembered what Father Dan had told me to do, so I 
said: 

' ' Never mind, mammy. Don 't worry I '11 be home for the 
holidays. ' ' 

Soon afterwards we heard the carriage wheels passing under 
the window, and then Father Dan came up in a white knitted 
muffler, and with a funny bag which he used for his surplice 
at funerals, and said, through a little cloud of white breath, 
that everything was ready. 

I saw that my mother was turning round and taking out her 
pocket-handkerchief, and I was snuffling a little myself, but 
at a sign from Father Dan, who was standing at the threshold, 
I squeezed back the water in my eyes and cried : 

' ' Good-bye mammy. I '11 be back for Christmas, ' ' and then 
darted across to the door. 

I was just passing through it when I heard my mother 
say ' ' Mary " in a strange low voice, and I turned and saw her 
I can see her still with her beautiful pale face all broken 
up, and her arms held out to me. 

Then I rushed back to her, and she clasped me to her breast, 
crying, ' ' Mally veen ! My Mally veen ! ' ' and I could feel her 
heart beating through her dress and hear the husky rattle in 
her throat, and then all our poor little game of make-believe 
broke down utterly. 

At the next moment my father was calling upstairs that I 
should be late for the steamer, so my mother dried her own 
eyes and then mine, and let me go. 

Father Dan was gone when I reached the head of the stairs, 



44 THE WOMAN THOU GAVEST ME 

but seeing Nessy MacLeod and Betsy Beauty at the bottom of 
them I soon recovered my composure, and sailing down in my 
finery I passed them in stately silence with my little bird- 
like head in the air. 

I intended to do the same with Aunt Bridget, who was 
standing with a shawl over her shoulders by the open door, but 
she touched me and said : 

"Aren't you going to kiss me good-bye, then?" 

"No," I answered, drawing my little body to ite utmost 
height. 

"And why not?" 

"Because you've been unkind to mamma and cruel to me, 
and because you think there's nobody but Betsy Beauty. 
And I '11 tell them at the Convent that you are making mamma 
ill, and you 're as bad as ... as bad as the bad women in 
the Bible!" 

"My gracious!" said Aunt Bridget, and she tried to laugh, 
but I could see that her face became as white as a white- 
washed wall. This did not trouble me in the least until I 
reached the carriage, when Father Dan, who was sitting inside, 
said: 

"My little Mary won't leave home like that without kissing 
her aunt and saying good-bye to her cousins. ' ' 

So I returned and shook hands with Nessy MacLeod and 
Betsy Beauty, and lifted my little face to my Aunt Bridget. 

' ' That 's better, ' ' she said, after she had kissed me, but when 
I had passed her my quick little ear caught the words : 

' ' Good thing she 's going, though. ' ' 

During this time my father, with the morning mist playing 
like hoar-frost about his iron-grey hair, had been tramping 
the gravel and saying the horses were getting cold, so without 
more ado he bundled me into the carriage and banged the door 
on me. 

But hardly had we started when Father Dan, who was 
blinking his little eyes and pretending to blow his nose on his 
coloured print handkerchief, said, "Look!" and pointed up 
to my mother's room. 

There she was again, waving and kissing her hand to me 
through her open window, and she continued to do so until 
we swirled round some trees and I lost the sight of her. 

"What happened in my mother's room when her window 
was closed I do not know, but I well remember that, creeping 
into a corner of the carriage, I forgot all about the glory 



MY GIRLHOOD 45 

and grandeur of going away, and that it did* not help me 
to remember -when half way down the drive a boy with 
a dog darted from under the chestnuts and raced alongside 
of us. 

It was Martin, and though his right arm was in a sling, he 
leapt up to the step and held on to the open window by his 
left hand while he pushed his head into the carriage and made 
signs to me to take out of his mouth a big red apple which 
he held in his teeth by the stalk. I took it, and then he 
dropped to the ground, without uttering a word, and I could 
laugh now to think of the gruesome expression of hia" face 
with its lagging lower lip and bloodshot eyes. I had no 
temptation to do so then, however, and least of all when I 
looked back and saw his little one-armed figure in the big mush-" 
room hat, standing on the top of the high wall of the bridge, 
with William Rufus beside him. 

We reached Blackwater in good time for the boat, and when 
the funnels had ceased trumpeting and we were well away, I 
saw that we were sitting in one of two private cabins on the 
upper deck; and then Father Dan told me that the other 
was occupied by the young Lord Raa, and his guardian, and 
that they were going up together for the first time to Oxford. 

I am sure this did not interest me in the least at that moment, 
so false is it that fate forewarns us when momentous events are 
about to occur. And now that I had time to think, a dreadful 
truth was beginning to dawn on me, so that when Father Dan, 
who was much excited, went off to pay his respects to the great 
people, I crudled up in the corner of the cabin that was nearest 
to the door and told myself that after all I had been turned 
out of my father's house, and would never see my mother and 
Martin any more. 

I was sitting so, with my hands in my big muff and my face 
to the stern, making the tiniest occasional sniff as the mountains 
of my home faded away in the sunlight, which was now tipping 
the hilltops with a feathery crest, when my cabin was darkened 
by somebody who stood in the doorway. 

It was a tall boy, almost a man, and I knew in a moment who 
he was. He was the young Lord Raa. And at first I thought 
how handsome and well dressed he was as he looked down at 
me and smiled. After a moment he stepped into the cabin and 
sat in front of me and said : 

"So you are little Mary O'Neill, are you!" 



46 THE WOMAN THOU GAYEST ME 

I did not speak. I was thinking he was not so very hand- 
some after all, having two big front teeth like Betsy Beauty. 

"The girl who ought to have been a boy and put my nose 
out, eh?" 

Still I did not speak. I was thinking his voice was like 
Nessy MacLeod's shrill and harsh and grating. 

"Poor little mite ! Going all the way to Rome to a Convent, 
isn't she?" 

Even yet I did not speak. I was thinking his eyes were like 
Aunt Bridget 's cold and grey and piercing. 

' ' So silent and demure, though ! Quite a little nun already ! 
A deuced pretty one, too, if anybody asks me. ' ' 

I was beginning to have a great contempt for him. 

"Where did you get those big angel eyes from? Stole them 
from some picture of the Madonna, 1 11 swear. ' ' 

By this time I had concluded that he was not worth speaking 
to, so I turned my head and I was looking back at the sea, 
when I heard him say : 

"I suppose you are going to give me a kiss, you nice little 
woman, aren 't you ? ' ' 

"No." 

"Oh, but you must we are relations, you know." 

"I won't." 

He laughed at that, and rising from his seat, he reached over 
to kiss me, whereupon I drew one of my hands out of my muff 
and doubling my little mittened fist, I struck him in the face. 

Being, as I afterwards learned, a young autocrat, much 
indulged by servants and generally tyrannising over them, he 
was surprised and angry. 

"The spitfire!" he said. "Who would have believed it? 
The face of a nun and the temper of a devil ! But you'll have 
to make amends for this, my lady." 

With that he went away and I saw no more of him until 
the steamer was drawing up at the landing stage at Liverpool, 
and then, while the passengers were gathering up their luggage, 
he came back with Father Dan, and the tall sallow man who 
was his guardian, and said : 

' ' Going to give me that kiss to make amends, or are you to 
owe me a grudge for the rest of your life, my lady ? ' ' 

"My little Mary couldn't owe a grudge to anybody," said 
Father Dan, "She'll Mss his lordship and make amends; I'm 
certain. ' ' 



MY GIRLHOOD 47 

And then I did to the young Lord Eaa what I had done 
to Aunt Bridget I held up my face and he kissed me. 

It was a little, simple, trivial incident, but it led with other 
things to the most lamentable fact of my life, and when I 
think of it I sometimes wonder how it comes to pass that He 
who numbers the flowers of the field and counts the sparrows 
as they fall has no handwriting with which to warn His 
children that their footsteps may not fail. 

TWELFTH CHAPTER 

OP our journey to Rome nothing remains to me but the memory 
of sleeping in different beds in different towns, of trains 
screaming through tunnels and slowing down in glass-roofed 
railway stations, of endless crowds of people moving here 
and there in a sort of maze, nothing but this, and the 
sense of being very little and very helpless and of having 
to be careful not to lose sight of Father Dan, for fear of 
being lost until the afternoon of the fourth day after we 
left home. 

We were then crossing a wide rolling plain that was almost 
destitute of trees, and looked, from the moving train, like 
green billows of the sea with grass growing over them. Father 
Dan was reading his breviary for the following day, not know- 
ing what he would have to do in it, when the sun set in a 
great blaze of red beyond the horizon, and then suddenly a big 
round black ball, like a captive balloon, seemed to rise in the 
midst of the glory. 

I called Father Dan's attention to this, and in a moment 
he was fearfully excited. 

' ' Don 't worry, my child, ' ' he cried, while tears of joy sprang 
to his eyes. "Do you know what that is? That's the dome 
of St. Peter 's ! Rome, my child, Rome ! ' ' 

It was nine o'clock when we arrived at our destination, 
and in the midst of a great confusion I walked by Father 
Dan's side and held on to his vertical pocket, while he carried 
his own bag, and a basket of mine, down the crowded platform 
to an open cab outside the station. 

Then Father Dan wiped his forehead with his print hand- 
kerchief and I sat close up to him, and the driver cracked his 
long whip and shouted at the pedestrians while we rattled 
on and on over stony streets, which seemed to be full of statues 



43 

and fountains that were lit up by a great white light that was 
not moonlight and yet looked like it. 

But at last we stopped at a little door of a big house which 
seemed to stand, with a church beside it, on a high shelf 
overlooking the city, for I could see many domes like that of 
St. Peter lying below us. 

A grill in the little door was first opened and then a lady in 
a black habit, with a black band round her forehead and 
white bands down each side of her face, opened the door itself, 
and asked us to step in, and when we had done so, she took 
us down a long passage into a warm room, where another 
lady, dressed in the same way, only a little grander, sat in a 
big red arm-chair. 

Father Dan, who was still wearing his knitted muffler, bowed 
very low to this lady, calling her the Reverend Mother Magda- 
lene, and she answered him in English but with a funny sound 
which I afterwards knew to be a foreign accent. 

I remember that I thought she was very beautiful, nearly 
as beautiful as my mother, and when Father Dan told me to 
kiss her hand I did so, and then she put me to sit in a chair 
and looked at me. 

"What is her age?" she asked, whereupon Father Dan 
said he thought I would be eight that month, which was right, 
being October. 

"Small, isn't she?" said the lady, and then Father Dan 
said something about poor mamma which I cannot remember. 

After that they talked about other things, and I looked 
at the pictures on the walls pictures of Saints and Popes 
and, above all, a picture of Jesus with His heart open in 
His bosom. 

"The child will be hungry," said the lady. "She must 
have something to eat before she goes to bed the other children 
have gone already." 

Then she rang a hand-bell, and when the first lady came 
back she said : 

"Ask Sister Angela to come to me immediately." 

A few minutes later Sister Angela came into the room, 
and she was quite young, almost a girl, with such a sweet 
sad face that I loved her instantly. 

"This is little Mary O'Neill. Take her to the Refectory 
and give her whatever she wants, and don 't leave her until she 
is quiet and comfortable. ' ' 



MY GIRLHOOD 49 

"Very well, Mother," said Sister Angela, and taking my 
hand she whispered : ' ' Come, Mary, you look tired. ' ' 

I rose to go with her, but at the same moment Father Dan 
rose too, and I heard him say he must lose no time in finding 
an hotel, for his Bishop had given him only one day to remain 
in Rome, and he had to catch an early train home the following 
morning. 

This fell on me like a thunderbolt. I hardly know what 
I had led myself to expect, but certainly the idea of being 
left alone in Rome had never once occurred to me. 

My little heart was fluttering, and dropping the Sister's 
hand I stepped back and took Father Dan 's and said : 

"You are not going to leave your little Mary are you, 
Father?" 

It was harder for the dear Father than for me, for I remem- 
ber that, fearfully flurried, he stammered in a thick Toice 
something about the Reverend Mother taking good care of me, 
and how he was sure to come back at Christmas, according to my 
father's faithful promise, to take me home for the holidays. 

After that Sister Angela led me, sniffing a little still, to 
the Refectory, which was a large, echoing room, with rows of 
plain deal tables and forms, ranged in front of a reading desk 
that had another and much larger- picture of the Sacred Heart 
on the wall above it. Only one gasjet was burning, and I 
sat under it to eat my supper, and after I had taken a basin 
of soup I felt more comforted. 

Then Sister Angela lit a lamp and taking my hand she led 
me up a stone staircase to the Dormitory, which was a similar 
room, but not so silent, because it was full of beds, and the 
breathing of the girls, who were all asleep, made it sound like 
the watchmaker's shop in our village, only more church-like 
and solemn. 

My bed was near to the door, and after Sister Angela had 
helped me to undress, and tucked me in, she made her voice 
very low, and said I would be quite comfortable now, and she 
was sure I was going to be a good little girl and a dear child 
of the Infant Jesus ; and then I could not help taking my arms 
out again and clasping her round the neck and drawing her 
head down and kissing her. 

After that she took the lamp and went away to a cubicle 
which was partitioned off the end of the Dormitory and there 
I could see her prepare to go to bed herself taking the white 
bands off her cheeks and the black band off her forehe&d, 



50 THE WOMAN THOU GAYEST ME 

and letting her long light hair fall in beautiful wavy masses 
about her face, which made her look so sweet and home 
like. 

But oh, I was so lonely! Never in my life since no, not 
even when I was in my lowest depths have I felt so little 
and helpless and alone. After the Sister had gone to bed and 
everything was quiet in the Dormitory save for the breathing 
of the girls all strangers to me and I to them from mere 
loneliness I covered up my head in the clothes just as I used 
to do when I was a little thing and my father came into my 
mother's room. 

I try not to think bitterly of my father, but even yet I am 
at a loss to know how he could have cast me away so lightly. 
Was it merely that he wanted peace for his business and saw 
no chance of securing it in his own home except by removing 
the chief cause of Aunt Bridget's jealousy? Or was it that 
his old grudge against Fate for making me a girl made him 
wish to rid himself of the sight of me ? 

I do not know. I cannot say. But in either case I try 
in vain to see how he could have thought he had a right, caring 
nothing for me, to tear me from the mother who loved me and 
had paid for me so dear; or how he could have believed that 
because he was my father, charged with the care of my poor 
little body, he had control over the little bleeding heart which 
was not his to make to suffer. 

He is my father God help me to think the best of him. 

THIRTEENTH CHAPTER 

AT half past six in the morning I was awakened by the loud 
ringing of the getting-up bell, and as soon as I could rouse 
myself from the deep sleep of childhood I saw that a middle- 
aged nun with a severe face was saying a prayer, and that all 
the girls in the dormitory were kneeling in their beds while 
they made the responses. 

A few minutes later, when the girls were chattering and 
laughing as they dressed, making the room tingle with twitter- 
ing sounds like a tree full of linnets in the spring, a big girl 
came up to me and said : 

"I am Mildred Bankes and Sister Angela says I am to look 
after you to-day." 

She was about fifteen years of age, and had a long plain- 
featured face which reminded me of one of my father's 



MY GIRLHOOD 51 

horses that was badly used by the farm boys; but there 
was something sweet in her smile that made me like her 
instantly. 

She helped me to dress in my brown velvet frock, but said 
that one of her first duties would be to take me to the lay 
sisters who made the black habits which all the girls in the 
convent wore. 

It was still so early that the darkness of the room was just 
broken by pale shafts of light from the windows, but I could 
see that the children of my own age were only seven or eight 
altogether, while the majority of the girls were several years 
older, and Mildred explained this by telling me that the 
children of the Infant Jesus, like myself, were so few that 
they had been put into the dormitory of the children of the 
Sacred Heart. 

In a quarter of an hour everybody was washed and dressed, 
and then, at a word from Sister Angela, the girls went leaping 
and laughing downstairs to the Meeting Room, which was a 
large hall, with a platform at the farther end of it and another 
picture of the Sacred Heart, pierced with sharp thorns, on 
the wall. 

The Reverend Mother was there with the other nuns of the 
Convent, all pale-faced and slow eyed women wearing rosaries, 
and she said a long prayer, to which the scholars (there were 
seventy or eighty altogether) made responses, and then there 
was silence for five minutes, which were supposed to be devoted 
to meditation, although I could not help seeing that some of 
the big girls were whispering to each other while their heads 
were down. 

After that, and Mass in the Church, we went scurrying away 
to the Refectory, which was now warm 1 with the steam from 
our breakfast and bubbling with cheerful voices, making a 
noise that was like water boiling in a saucepan. 

I was so absorbed by all I saw that I forgot to eat until 
Mildred nudged me to do so, and even when my spoon was 
half way to my mouth something happened which brought 
it down again. 

At the tinkle of a hand-bell one of the big girls had stepped 
up to the reading-desk and begun to read from a book which 
I afterwards knew to be " The Imitation of Christ. ' ' She was 
about sixteen years of age, and her face was so vivid that I 
could not take my eyes off it. 



52 THE WOMAN THOU GAYEST ME 

Her complexion was fair and her hair was auburn, but her 
eyes were so dark and searching that when she raised her 
head, as she often did, they seemed to look through and 
through you. 

' ' Who is she ? " I whispered. 

"Alma Lier," Mildred whispered back, and when breakfast 
was over, and we were trooping off to lessons, she told me 
something about her. 

Alma was an American. Her father was very rich and 
his home was in New York. But her mother lived in Paris, 
though she was staying at an hotel in Rome at present, and 
sometimes she came in a carriage to take her daughter for a 
drive. 

Alma was the cleverest girl in the school too, and sometimes 
at the end of terms, when parents and friends came to the 
Convent and one of the Cardinals distributed the prizes, she 
had so many books to take away that she could hardly carry 
them down from the platform. 

I listened to this with admiring awe, thinking Alma the 
most wonderful and worshipful of all creatures, and when I 
remember it now, after all these years, and the bitter experi- 
ences which have come with them, I hardly know whether 
to laugh or cry at the thought that such was the impression 
she first made on me. 

My class was with the youngest of the children, and Sister 
Angela was my teacher. She was so sweet to me that her 
encouragement was like a kiss and her reproof like a caress; 
but I could think of nothing but Alma, and at noon, when 
the bell rang for lunch and Mildred took me back to the 
Refectory, I wondered if the same girl would read again. 

She did, but this time in a foreign language, French as 
Mildred whispered from the letters of the Blessed Margaret 
Mary Alacoque and my admiration for Alma went up ten- 
fold. I wondered if it could possibly occur that I should 
ever come to know her. 

There is no worship like that of a child, and life for me, 
which had seemed so cold and dark the day before, became 
warm and bright with a new splendour. 

I was impatient of everything that took me away from the 
opportunity of meeting with Alma the visit to the lay-sisters 
to be measured for my new black clothes, the three o'clock 
"rosary," when the nuns walked with their classes in the 
sunshine, and, above all, the voluntary visit to the Blessed 



MY GIRLHOOD 53 

Sacrament in the Church of the Convent, which seemed to 
me large and gorgeous, though divided across the middle by 
an open bronze screen, called a Cancello the inner half, as 
Mildred whispered, being for the inmates of the school, while 
the outer half was for the congregation which came on Sunday 
to Benediction. 

But at four o 'clock we had dinner, when Alma read again 
this time in Italian from the writings of Saint Francis of 
Sales and then, to my infinite delight, came a long recreation, 
when all the girls scampered out into the Convent garden, 
which was still bright with afternoon sunshine and as merry 
with laughter and shouts as the seashore on a windy summer 
morning. 

The garden was a large bare enclosure, bounded on two 
sides by the convent buildings and on the other two by a 
yellow wall and an avenue made by a line of stone pines with 
heads like open umbrellas, but it had no other foliage except 
an old tree which reminded me of Tommy the Mate, haying 
gnarled and sprawling limbs, and standing like a weather- 
beaten old sailor, four-square in the middle. 

A number of the girls were singing and dancing around 
this tree, and I felt so happy just then that I should have 
loved to join them, but I was consumed by a desire to come to 
close quarters with the object of my devotion, so I looked 
eagerly about me and asked Mildred if Alma was likely to be 
there. 

' ' Sure to be, ' ' said Mildred, and hardly were the words out 
of her mouth when Alma herself came straight down in our 
direction, surrounded by a group of admiring girls, who were 
hanging on to her and laughing at everything she said. 

My heart began to thump, and without knowing what I 
was doing I stopped dead short, while Mildred went on a 
pace or two ahead of me. 

Then I noticed that Alma had stopped too, and that her 
great searching eyes were looking down at me. In my ner- 
vousness, I tried to smile, but Alma continued to stare, and 
at length, in the tone of one who had accidentally turned 
up something with her toe that was little and ridiculous, she 
said: 

' ' Goodness, girls, what 's this ? ' ' 

Then she burst into a fit of laughter, in which the other 
girls joined, and looking me up and down they all laughed 
together. 



54 THE WOMAN THOU GAVEST ME 

I knew what they were laughing at the clothes my mother 
had made for me and I had felt so proud of. That burnt me 
like iron, and I think my lip must have dropped, but Alma 
showed no mercy. 

' ' Dare say the little doll thinks herself pretty, though, ' ' she 
said. And then she passed on, and the girls with her, and as 
they went off they looked back over their shoulders and 
laughed again. 

Never since has any human creature not even Alma her- 
self made me suffer more than I suffered at that moment. 
My throat felt tight, tears leapt to my eyes, disappointment, 
humiliation, and shame swept over me like a flood, and I 
stood squeezing my little handkerchief in my hand and feeling 
as if I could have died. 

At the next moment Mildred stepped back to me, and putting 
her arm about my waist she said : 

"Never mind, Mary. She's a heartless thing. Don't have 
anything to do with her. ' ' 

But all the sunshine had gone out of the day for me now 
and I cried for hours. I was still crying, silently but bitterly, 
when, at eight o'clock, we were saying the night prayers, 
and I saw Alma, who was in the opposite benches, whispering 
to one of the girls who sat next to her and then looking straight 
across at me. 

And at nine o 'clock when we went to bed I was crying more 
than ever, so that after the good-night-bell had been rung and 
the lights had been put down, Sister Angela, not knowing the 
cause of my sorrow, stepped up to my bed before going down 
stairs for her own studies, and whispered: 

"You mustn't fret for home, Mary. You will soon get 
used to it." 

But hardly had I been left alone, with the dull pain I could 
find no ease for, when somebody touched me on the shoulder, 
and, looking up, I saw a girl in her nightdress standing beside 
me. It was Alma and she said: 

"Say, little girl, is your name O'Neill?" 

Trembling with nervousness I answered that it was. 

"Do you belong to the O'Neills of Elian?" 

Still trembling I told her that I did. 

"My!" she said in quite another tone, and then I saw that 
by some means I had begun to look different in her eyes. 

After a moment she sat on the side of my bed and asked 
questions about my home if it was not large and very old, 



MY GIRLHOOD 55 

with big stone staircases, and great open fireplaces, and broad 
terraces, and beautiful walks going down to the sea. 

I was so filled with the joy of finding myself looking grand 
in Alma's eyes that I answered "yes" and "yes" without 
thinking too closely about her questions, and my tears were 
all brushed away when she said: 

' ' I knew somebody who lived in your house once, and I '11 
tell her all about you." 

She stayed a few moments longer, and when going off she 
whispered : 

"Hope you don't feel badly about my laughing in the 
garden to-day. I didn't mean a thing. But if any of the girls 
laugh again just say you 're Alma Lier 's friend and she 's going 
to take care of you." 

I could hardly believe my ears. Some great new splendour 
had suddenly dawned upon me and I was very happy. 

I did not know then that the house which Alma had been 
talking of was not my father's house, but Castle Raa. I did 
not know then that the person who had lived there was her 
mother, and that in her comely and reckless youth she had 
been something to the bad Lord Raa who had lashed my 
father and sworn at my grandmother. 

I did not know anything that was dead and buried in the 
past, or shrouded and veiled in the future. I only knew that 
Alma had called herself my friend and promised to take care 
of me. So with a glad heart I went to sleep. 

FOURTEENTH CHAPTER 

ALMA kept her word, though perhaps her method of protection 
was such as would have commended itself only to the heart 
of a child. 

It consisted in calling me Margaret Mary after our patron 
saint of the Sacred Heart, in taking me round the garden dur- 
ing recreation as if I had been a pet poodle, and, above all, in 
making my bed the scene of the conversaziones which some of 
the girls held at night when they were supposed to be asleep. 

The secrecy of these gatherings flattered me, and when the 
unclouded moon, in the depths of the deep blue Italian sky, 
looked in on my group of girls in their nightdresses, bunched 
together on my bed, with my own little body between, I had 
a feeling of dignity as well as solemnity and awe. 

Of course Alma was the chip f spokeswoman at these whis- 



56 

pered conferences. Sometimes she told us of her drives into 
the Borghese Gardens, where she saw the King and Queen, or 
to the Hunt on the Campagna, where she met the flower of the 
aristocracy, or to the Pincio, where the Municipal band played 
in the pavilion, while ladies sat in their carriages in the sun- 
shine, and officers in blue cloaks saluted them and smiled. 

Sometimes she indicated her intentions for the future, which 
was certainly not to be devoted to retreats and novenas, or 
to witness another black dress as long as she lived, and if she 
married (which was uncertain) it was not to be to an Ameri- 
can, but to a Frenchman, because Frenchmen had "family" 
and "blood," or perhaps to an Englishman, if he was a mem- 
ber of the House of Lords, in which case she would attend all 
the race-meetings and Coronations, and take tea at the Carlton, 
where she would eat meringues glaces every day and have as 
many eclairs as she liked. 

And sometimes she would tell us the stories of the novels 
which she bribed one of the washing-women to smuggle into 
the convent stories of ladies and their lovers, and of intoxi- 
cating dreams of kissing and fondling, at which the bigger 
girls, with far-off suggestions of sexual mysteries still unex- 
plored, would laugh and shudder, and then Alma would say: 

"But hush, girls! Margaret Mary will be shocked." 

Occasionally these conferences would be interrupted by 
Mildred's voice from the other end of the dormitory, where 
she would raise her head from her pillow and say : 

"Alma Lier, you ought to be ashamed of yourself keeping 
that child up when she ought to be asleep, instead of listening 
to your wicked stories." 

' ' Helloa, Mother Mildred, is that you ? ' ' Alma would answer, 
and then the girls would laugh, and Mildred was supposed 
to be covered with confusion. 

One night Sister Angela's footsteps were heard on the stairs, 
and then the girls flew back to their beds, where, with the 
furtive instinct of their age and sex, they pretended to be 
sleeping soundly when the Sister entered the room. But the 
Sister was not deceived, and walking up the aisle between the 
beds she said in an angry tone : 

"Alma Lier, if this ever occurs again I'll step down to the 
Reverend Mother and tell her all about you." 

Little as I was, I saw that between Alma and Sister Angela 
there was a secret feud, which must soon break into open 
rupture, but for my own part I was entirely happy, being still 



MY GIRLHOOD 57 

proud of Alma's protection and only feeling any misgivings 
when Mildred's melancholy eyes were looking at me. 

Thus week followed week until we were close upon Christ- 
mas, and the girls, who were to be permitted to go home before 
the Feast, began to count the days to the holidays. I counted 
them too, and when anybody talked of her brother I thought 
of Martin Conrad, though his faithful little figure was fading 
away from me, and when anybody spoke of her parents I 
remembered my mother, for whom my affection never 
failed. 

But, within a week from the time for breaking up, the 
Reverend Mother sent for me, and with a sinking heart I went 
to her room, knowing well what she was going to say. 

"You are not to go home for the holidays this time, my 
child. You are to remain h,ere, and Sister Angela is to stay 
to take care of you." 

She had a letter from Father Dan, telling her that my 
mother was still unwell, and for this and other reasons it was 
considered best that I should not return at Christmas. 

Father Dan had written a letter to me also, beginning, 
"My dear daughter in Jesus" and ending "Yours in Xt," 
saying it was not his fault that he could not fulfil his promise, 
but my father was much from home now-a-days and Aunt 
Bridget was more difficult than ever, so perhaps I should be 
happier at the Convent. 

It was a bitter blow, though the bitterest part of it lay in 
the fear that the girls would think I was of so little importance 
to my people that they did not care to see me. 

But the girls were too eager about their own concerns to 
care much about me, and even on the very last day and at the 
very last moment, when everything was bustle and joy, and 
boxes were being carried downstairs, and everybody was 
kissing everybody else and wishing each other a Happy 
Christmas, and then flying away like mad things, and I 
alone was being left, Alma herself, before she stepped into 
a carriage in which a stout lady wearing furs was waiting 
to receive her, only said: 

' ' By-by, Margaret Mary ! Take care of Sister Angela. ' ' 

Next day the Reverend Mother went off to her cottage at 
Nemi, and the other nuns and novices to their friends in the 
country, and then Sister Angela and I Avere alone in the big 
empty echoing convent save for two elderly lay Sisters, who 
cooked and cleaned for us, and the Chaplain, who lived by 



58 THE WOMAN THOU GAYEST ME 

himself in a little white hut like a cell which stood at the 
farthest corner of the garden. 

We moved our quarters to a room in the front of the house, 
so as to look out over the city, and down into the piazza which 
was full of traffic, and after a while we had many cheerful 
hours together. 

During the days before Christmas we spent our mornings 
in visiting the churches and basilicas where there were little 
illuminated models of the Nativity, with the Virgin and the 
Infant Jesus in the stable among the straw. The afternoons 
we spent at home in the garden, where the Chaplain, in his 
black soutane and biretta, was always sitting under the old 
tree, reading his breviary. 

His name was Father Giovanni and he was a tall young 
man with a long, thin, pale face, and when Sister Angela first 
took me up to him she said: 

' ' This is our Margaret Mary. ' ' 

Then his sad face broke into warm sunshine, and he stroked 
my head, and sent me away to skip with my skipping-rope, 
while he and Sister Angela sat together under the tree, and 
afterwards walked to and fro in the avenue between the stone 
pines and the wall, until they came to his cell in the corner, 
where she craned her neck at the open door as if she would 
have liked to go in and make things more tidy and comfortable. 

On Christmas Day we had currant cake in honour of the 
feast, and Sister Angela asked Father Giovanni to come to tea, 
and he came, and was quite cheerful, so that when the Sister, 
who was also very happy, signalled to me to take some mistletoe 
from the bottom of a picture I held it over his head and 
kissed him from behind. Then he snatched me up in his 
arms and kissed me back, and we had a great romp round the 
chairs and tables. 

But the Ave Maria began to ring from the churches, and 
Father Giovanni (according to the rule of our Convent) hav- 
ing to go, he kissed me again, and then I said : 

"Why don't you kiss Sister Angela too?" 

At that they only looked at each other and laughed, but 
after a moment he kissed her hand, and then she went down- 
stairs to see him out into the garden. 

When she came back her eyes were sparkling and her cheeks 
were flushed, and, that night, when she took away her black 
and white whimple and gorget on going to bed, she stood 
before a looking-glass and wound her beautiful light hair 



MY GIRLHOOD 59 

round her finger and curled it over her forehead in the way 
it was worn by the ladies we saw in the streets. 

I think it was two nights later that she told me I was to go 
to bed early because Facher Giovanni was not well and she 
would have to go over to see him. 

She went, and I got into bed, but I could not sleep, and 
while I lay waiting for Sister Angela I listened to some men 
who as they crossed the piazza were singing, in tremulous 
voices, to their mandolines and guitars, what I believed to be 
love songs, for I had begun to learn Italian. 

"Oil bella Napoli. Oh suol beato 
Onde soiridere volla il creato." 

It was late when Sister Angela came back and then she 
was breathing hard as if she had been running. I asked if 
Father Giovanni's sickness was worse, and she said no, it was 
better, and I was to say nothing about it. But she could not 
rest and at last she said: 

' ' Didn 't we forget to say our prayers, Mary ? ' ' 

So I got up again and Sister Angela said one of the beautiful 
prayers out of our prayer-book. But her voice was very low 
and when she came to the words: 

"0 Father of all mankind, forgive all sinners who repent 
of their sins, ' ' she broke down altogether. 

I thought she was ill, but she said it was only a cold she had 
caught in crossing the garden and I was to go to sleep like a 
good girl and think no more about her. 

But in the middle of the night I awoke, and Sister Angela 
was crying. 

FIFTEENTH CHAPTER 

MOST of the girls were depressed when they returned to school, 
but Alma was in high spirits, and on the first night of the term 
she crept over to my bed and asked what we had been doing 
during the holidays. 

"Not a thing, eh?" 

I answered that we had done lots of things and been very 
happy. 

"Happy? In this gloomy old convent? You and Sister 
Angela alone?" 

I told her we had two lay sisters and then there was Father 
Giovanni. 

' ' Father Giovanni ? That serious old cross-bones ? ' ' 



60 THE WOMAN THOU GAVEST ME 

I said he was not always serious, and that on Christmas Day 
he had come to tea and kissed me under the mistletoe. 

"Kissed you under the mistletoe!" said Alma, and then 
she whispered eagerly, 

"He didn't kiss Sister Angela, did he?" 

I suppose I was nattered by her interest, and this loosened 
my tongue, for I answered: 

"He kissed her hand, though." 

"Kissed her hand? My! ... Of course she was very 
angry . . . wasn't she angry?" 

I answered no, and in my simplicity I proceeded to prove 
this by explaining that Sister Angela had taken Father 
Giovanni down to the door, and when he was ill she had 
nursed him. 

' ' Nursed him ? In his own house, you mean ? ' ' 

"Yes, at night, too, and she stayed until he was better, and 
caught a cold coming back." 

"Well, I never!" said Alma, and I remember that I was 
very pleased with myself during this interview, for by the 
moonlight which was then shining into the room, I could see 
that Alma's eyes were sparkling. 

The next night we recommenced our conferences in bed, 
when Alma told us all about her holiday, which she had spent 
' ' way up in St. Moritz, ' ' among deep snow and thick ice, skat- 
ing, bobbing, lugging, and above all riding astride, and 
dragging a man on skis behind her. 

"Such lots of fun," she said. And the best of it was at 
night when there were dances and fancy-dress balls with com- 
pany which included all the smart people in Europe, and 
men who gave a girl such a good time if she happened to be 
pretty and was likely to have a dot. 

Alma had talked so eagerly and the girls had listened so 
intently, that nobody was aware that Sister Angela had 
returned to the room until she stepped forward and said: 

"Alma Lier, I'm ashamed of you. Go back to your bed, 
miss, this very minute." 

The other girls crept away and I half covered my face with 
my bed-clothes, but Alma stood up to Sister Angela and 
answered her back. 

"Go to bed yourself, and don't speak to me like that, or 
you'll pay for your presumption." 

"Pay? Presumption? You insolent thing, you are cor- 
rupting the whole school and are an utter disgrace to it. I 



MY GIRLHOOD 61 

warned you that I would tell the Reverend Mother what you 
are, and now I've a great mind to do it." 

"Do it. I dare you to do it. Do it to-night, and to- 
morrow morning 7 will do something." 

' ' What will you do, you brazen hussy ? ' ' said Sister Angela, 
but I could see that her lip was trembling. 

' ' Never mind what. If I 'm a hussy I 'm not a hypocrite, and 
as for corrupting the school, and being a disgrace to it, I'll 
leave the Reverend Mother to say who is doing that. ' ' 

Low as the light was I could see that Sister Angela was 
deadly pale. There was a moment of silence in which I 
thought she glanced in my direction, and then stammering 
something which I did not hear, she left the dormitory. 

It was long before she returned, and when she did so I saw 
her creep into her cubicle and sit there for quite a great time 
before going to bed. My heart was thumping hard, for I had 
a vague feeling that I had been partly to blame for what had 
occurred, but after a while I fell asleep and remembered no 
more until I was awakened in the middle of the night by 
somebody kissing me in my sleep. 

It was Sister Angela, and she was turning away, but I called 
her back, and she knelt by my bed and whispered : 

"Hush! I know what has happened, but I don't blame 
you for it. ' ' 

I noticed that she was wearing her out-door cloak, and 
that she was breathing rapidly, just as she did on the night 
she came from the chaplain's quarters, and when I asked if 
she was going anywhere she said yes, and if I ever heard any- 
thing against Sister Angela I was to think the best of her. 

"But you are so good . . ." 

"No, I am not good. I am very wicked. I should never 
have thought of being a nun, but I 'm glad now that I 'm only 
a novice and have never taken the vows." 

After that she told me to go to sleep, and then she kissed 
me again, and I thought she was going to cry, but she rose 
hurriedly and left the room. 

Next morning after the getting-up bell had been rung, and 
I had roused myself to full consciousness, I found that four 
or five nuns were standing together near the door of the 
dormitory talking about something that had happened during 
the night Sister Angela had gone! 

Half an hour afterwards when, full of this exciting event, 
the girls went bustling down to the Meeting Room they found 



62 THE WOMAN THOU GAYEST ME 

the nuns in great agitation over an incident of still deeper 
gravity Father Giovanni also had disappeared! 

A convent school is like a shell on the shore of a creek, 
always rumbling with the rumour of the little sea it lives 
under; and by noon the girls, who had been palpitating with 
curiosity, thought they knew everything that had happened 
how at four in the morning Father Giovanni and Sister Angela 
had been seen to come out of the little door which connected 
the garden with the street; how at seven they had entered a 
clothing emporium in the Corso, where going in at one door as 
priest and nun they had come out at another as ordinary 
civilians ; how at eight they had taken the first train to Civita 
Vecchia, arriving in tune to catch a steamer sailing at ten, 
and how they were now on their way to England. 

By some mysterious instinct of their sex the girls had 
gathered with glistening eyes in front of the chaplain's 
deserted quarters, where Ahna leaned against the wall with 
her insteps crossed and while the others talked she smiled, 
as much as to say, "I told you so." 

As for me I was utterly wretched, and being now quite 
certain that I was the sole cause of Sister Angela 's misfortune, 
I was sitting under the tree in the middle of the garden, when 
Alma, surrounded by her usual group of girls, came down 
on me. 

"What's this?" she said. "Margaret Mary crying? Feel- 
ing badly for Sister Angela, is she? Why, you little silly, 
you needn't cry for her. She's having the time of her life, 
she is!" 

At this the girls laughed and shuddered, as they used to do 
when Alma told them stories, but just at that moment the nun 
with the stern face (she was the Mother of the Novices) came 
up and said, solemnly: 

"Ahna Lier, the Reverend Mother wishes to speak to you." 

"To me?" said Alma, in a tone of surprise, but at the next 
moment she went off jauntily. 

Hours passed and Ahna did not return, and nothing 
occurred until afternoon "rosary," when the Mother of the 
Novices came again and taking me by the hand said : 

"Come with me, my child." 

I knew quite well where we were going to, and my lip was 
trembling when we entered the Reverend Mother's room, for 
Alma was there, sitting by the stove, and close beside her, with 



MY GIRLHOOD 63 

an angry look, was the stout lady in furs whom I had seen 
in the carriage at the beginning of the holidays. 

' ' Don 't be afraid, ' ' said the Reverend Mother, and drawing 
me to her side she asked me to tell her what I had told Alma 
about Sister Angela. 

I repeated our conversation as nearly as I could remember 
it, and more than once Alma nodded her head as if in assent, 
but the Reverend Mother's face grew darker at every word 
and, seeing this, I said : 

' ' But if Sister Angela did anything wrong I 'm sure she was 
very sorry, for when she came back she said her prayers, 
and when she got to 'Father of all mankind, forgive all 
sinners . . .' ' 

"Yes, yes, that will do," said the Reverend Mother, and 
then she handed me back to the Mother of the Novices, telling 
her to warn me to say nothing to the other children. 

Alma did not return to us at dinner, or at recreation, or at 
chapel (when another chaplain said vespers), or even at nine 
o'clock, when we went to bed. But next morning, almost as 
soon as the Mother of the Novices had left the dormitory, she 
burst into the room saying: 

"I'm leaving this silly old convent, girls. Mother has 
brought the carriage, and I've only come to gather up my 
belongings. ' ' 

Nobody spoke, and while she wrapped up her brushes and 
combs in her nightdress, she joked about Sister Angela and 
Father Giovanni and then about Mildred Bankes, whom she 
called "Reverend Mother Mildred," saying it would be her 
turn next. 

Then she tipped up her mattress, and taking a novel from 
under it she threw the book on to my bed, saying : 

"Margaret Mary will have to be your story-teller now. 
By-by, girls!" 

Nobody laughed. For the first tune Alma's humour had 
failed her, and when we went downstairs to the Meeting Room 
it was with sedate and quiet steps. 

The nuns were all there, with their rosaries and crosses, 
looking as calm as if nothing had occurred, but the girls were 
thinking of Alma, and when, after prayers, during the five 
minutes of silence for meditation, we heard the wheels of a 
carriage going off outside, we knew what had happened 
Alma had gone. 



64 THE WOMAN THOU GAYEST ME 

We were rising to go to Mass when the Reverend Mother 
said, 

' ' Children, I have a word to say to you. You all know that 
one of our novices has left us. You also know that one of our 
scholars has just gone. It is my wish that you should forget 
both of them, and I shall look upon it as an act of disobedience 
if any girl in the Convent ever mentions their names again." 

All that day I was in deep distress, and when, night coming, 
I took my troubles to bed, telling myself I had now lost Alma 
also, and it was all my fault, somebody put her arms about me 
in the darkness and whispered : 

"Mary O'Neill, are you awake?" 

It was Mildred, and I suppose my snuffling answered her, 
for she said : 

"You mustn't cry for Alma Lier. She was no friend of 
yours, and it was the best thing that ever happened to you 
when she was turned out of the convent. ' ' 

SIXTEENTH CHAPTER 

r A CHILD lives from hour to hour, and almost at the same 
moment that my heart was made desolate by the loss of my 
two friends it was quickened to a new interest. 

Immediately after the departure of Sister Angela and Alma 
we were all gathered in the Meeting Room for our weekly 
rehearsal of the music of the Benediction the girls, the 
novices, the nuns, the Reverend Mother, and a Maestro from 
the Pope's choir, a short fat man, who wore a black soutane 
and a short lace tippet. 

Benediction was the only service of our church which I 
knew, being the one my mother loved best and could do most 
of for herself in the solitude of her invalid room, but the form 
used in the Convent differed from that to which I had been 
accustomed, and even the Tantum, ergo and the Salutaris 
Hostia I could not sing. 

On this occasion a litany was added which I had heard 
before, and then came a hymn of the Blessed Virgin which 
I remembered well. My mother sang it herself and taught me 
to sing it, so that when the Maestro, swinging his little ivory 
baton, began in his alto voice 

"Ave maris stella, 
Dei Mater alma " 

I joined in with the rest, but sang in English instead of Latin. 



MY GIRLHOOD 65 

Of all appeals to the memory that of music is the strongest, 
and after a moment I forgot that I was at school in Rome, 
being back in my mother's room in Elian, standing by her 
piano and singing while she played. I think I must have 
let my little voice go, just as I used to do at home, when it 
rang up to the wooden rafters, for utterly lost to my surround- 
ings I had got as far as 

"Virgin of all virgins, 
To thy shelter take us " 

when suddenly I became aware that I alone was singing, the 
children about me being silent, and even the Maestro 's baton 
slowing down. Then I saw that all eyes were turned in my 
direction, and overwhelmed with confusion I stopped, for my 
voice broke and slittered into silence. 

' ' Go on, little angel, ' ' said the Maestro, but I was trembling 
all over by this time and could not utter a sound. 

Nevertheless the Reverend Mother said : ' ' Let Mary 'Neill 
sing the hymn in church in future." 

As soon as I had conquered my nervousness at singing in 
the presence of the girls, I did so, singing the first line of 
each verse alone, and I remember to have heard that the con- 
gregations on Sunday afternoons grew larger and larger, until, 
within a few weeks, the church was densely crowded. 

Perhaps my childish heart was stirred by vanity in all this, 
for I remember that ladies in beautiful dresses would crowd 
to the bronze screen that separate J us from the public and 
whisper among themselves, "Which is she?" "The little 
one in the green scarf with the big eyes ! " " God bless her ! ' ' 

But surely it was a good thing that at length life had begun 
to have a certain joy for me, for as time went on I became 
absorbed in the life of the Convent, and particularly in the 
services of the church, so that home itself began to fade away, 
and when the holidays came round and excuses were received 
for not sending for me, the pain of my disappointment became 
less and less until at last it disappeared altogether. 

If ever a child loved her mother I did, and there were 
moments when I reproached myself with not thinking of her 
for a whole day. These were the moments when a letter 
came from Father Dan, telling me she was less well than 
before and her spark of life had to be coaxed and trimmed or 
it would splutter out altogether. 

But the effect of such warnings was wiped away when my 

E 



66 THE WOMAN THOU GAVEST ME 

mother wrote herself, saying I was to be happy as she was 
happy, because she knew that though so long separated we 
should soon be together, and the time would not seem long. 

Not understanding the deeper meaning that lay behind 
words like these, I was nothing loath to put aside the thought 
of home until little by little it faded away from me in the 
distance, just as the island itself had done on the day when I 
sailed out with Martin Conrad on our great voyage of explora- 
tion to St. Mary's Rock. 

Thus two years and a half passed since I arrived in Rome 
before the great fact befell me which was to wipe all other 
facts out of my remembrance. 

It was Holy Week, the season of all seasons for devotion 
to the Sacred Heart, and our Convent was palpitating with 
the joy of its spiritual duties, the many offices, the masses for 
the repose of the souls in Purgatory, the preparations for 
Tenebrae, with the chanting of the Miserere, and for Holy 
Saturday and Easter Day, with the singing of the Gloria and 
the return of the Alleluia. 

But beyond all this for me were the arrangements for my 
first confession, which, coming a little late, I made with ten 
or twelve other girls of my sodality, feeling so faint when I 
took my turn and knelt by the grating, and heard the whisper- 
ing voice within, like something from the unseen, something 
supernatural, something divine, that I forgot all I had come 
to say and the priest had to prompt me. 

And bej^ond that again were the arrangements for my first 
communion, which was to take place on Easter morning, when 
I was to walk in procession with the other girls, dressed all 
in white, behind a gilded figure of the Virgin, singing "Ave 
maris stella, " through the piazza into the church, where one 
of the Cardinals, in the presence of the fathers and mothers 
of the other children, was to put the Holy Wafer on our 
tongues and we were to know for the first time the joy of 
communion with our Lord. 

But that was not to be for me. 

On the morning of Holy Wednesday the blow fell. The 
luminous grey of the Italian dawn was filtering through the 
windows of the dormitory, like the light in a tomb, and a 
multitude of little birds on the old tree in the garden were 
making a noise like water falling on small stones in a fountain, 
when the Mother of the Novices came to my bedside and said : 



MY GIRLHOOD 67 

"You are to go to the Reverend Mother as soon as possible, 
my child." 

Her voice, usually severe, was so soft that I knew some- 
thing had happened, and when I went downstairs I also 
knew, before the Reverend Mother had spoken, what she was 
going to say. 

"Mary," she said, "I am sorry to tell you that your mother 
is ill." 

I listened intently, fearing that worse would follow. 

"She is very ill very seriously ill, and she wishes to see 
you. Therefore you are to go home immediately. ' ' 

The tears sprang to my eyes, and the Reverend Mother 
drew me to her side and laid my head on her breast and 
comforted me, saying my dear mother had lived the life of a 
good Christian and could safely trust in the redeeming blood 
of our Blessed Saviour. But I thought she must have some 
knowledge of the conditions of my life at home, for she told 
me that whatever happened I was to come back to her. 

"Tell your father you wish to come back to me," she said, 
and then she explained the arrangements that were being 
made for my journey. 

I was to travel alone by the Paris express which left Rome 
at six o'clock that evening. The Mother of the Novices was 
to put me in a sleeping car and see that the greatest care 
would be taken of me until I arrived at Calais, where Father 
Donovan was to meet the train and take me home. 

I cried a great deal, I remember, but everybody in the 
Convent was kind, and when, of my own choice, I returned to 
the girls at recreation, the sinister sense of dignity which by 
some strange irony of fate comes to all children when the Angel 
of Death is hovering over them, came to me also poor, helpless 
innocent and I felt a certain distinction in my sorrow. 

At five o 'clock the omnibus of the Convent had been brought 
round to the door, and I was seated in one corner of it, with 
the Mother of the Novices in front of me, when Mildred 
Bankes came running breathlessly downstairs to say that the 
Reverend Mother had given her permission to see me off. 

Half an hour later Mildred and I were sitting in a compart- 
ment of the Wagon-Lit, while the Mother was talking to the 
conductor on the platform. 

Mildred, whose eyes were wet, was saying something about 
herself which seems pitiful enough now in the light of what 
has happened since. 



68 THE WOMAN THOU GAYEST ME 

She was to leave the Convent soon, and before I returned 
to it she would be gone. She was poor and an orphan, both 
her parents being dead, and if she had her own way she 
would become a nun. In any case our circumstances would 
be so different, our ways of life so far apart, that we might 
never meet again; but if ... 

Before she had finished a bell rang on the platform, and 
a moment or two afterwards the train slid out of the station. 

Then for the first time I began to realise the weight of the 
blow that had fallen on me. I was sitting alone in my big 
compartment, we were running into the Campagna, the 
heavens were ablaze with the glory of the sunset, which was 
like fields of glistening fire, but darkness seemed to have 
fallen on all the world. 

SEVENTEENTH CHAPTER 

EARLY on Good Friday I arrived at Calais. It was a misty, 
rimy, clammy morning, and a thick fog was lying over the 
Channel. 

Almost before the train stopped I saw Father Dan, with his 
coat collar turned up, waiting for me on the platform. I 
could see that he was greatly moved at the sight of me, but 
was trying hard to maintain his composure. 

"Now don't worry, my child, don't worry," he said. "It 
will be all ri . . . But how well you are looking! And 
how you have grown ! And how glad your poor mother will 
be to see you!" 

I tried to ask how she was. "Is she . . ." 

"Yes, thank God, she's alive, and while there's life there's 
hope." 

We travelled straight through without stopping and arrived 
at Blackwater at seven the same evening. There we took 
train, for railways were running in Elian now, and down the 
sweet valleys that used to be green with grass, and through 
the little crofts that used to be red with fuchsia, there was 
a long raw welt of upturned earth. 

At the station of our village my father's carriage was 
waiting for us and a strange footman shrugged his shoulders 
in answer to some whispered question of Father Dan's, and 
from that I gathered that my mother's condition was 
unchanged. 

We reached home at dusk, just as somebody was lighting a 



MY GIRLHOOD 69 

line of new electric lamps that had been set up in the drive 
to show the way for the carriage under the chestnuts in which 
the rooks used to build and caw. 

I knew the turn of the path from which the house could be 
first seen, and I looked for it, remembering the last glimpse 
I had of my mother at her window. Father Dan looked, too, 
but for another reason to see if the blinds were down. 

Aunt Bridget was in the hall, and when Father Dan, who 
had grown more and more excited as we approached the end 
of our journey, asked how my mother was now, poor thing, 
she answered: 

"Worse; distinctly worse; past recognising anybody; so 
all this trouble and expense has been wasted." 

As she had barely recognised me I ran upstairs with a timid 
and quiet step and without waiting to take off my outer clothes 
made my way to my mother's bedroom. 

I remember the heavy atmosphere of the room as I opened 
the door. I remember the sense I had of its being lower and 
smaller than I thought. I remember the black four-foot bed- 
stead with the rosary hanging on a brass nail at the pillow end. 
I remember my little cot which still stood in the same place 
and contained some of the clothes I had worn as a child, and 
even some of the toys I had played with. 

A strange woman, in the costume of a nurse, turned to 
look at me as I entered, but I did not at first see my mother, 
and when at length I did see her, with her eyes closed, she 
looked so white and small as to be almost hidden in the big 
white bed. 

Presently Father Dan came in, followed by Doctor Conrad 
and Aunt Bridget, and finally my father, who was in his shirt 
sleeves and had a pen in his ear, I remember. 

Then Father Dan, who was trembling very much, took me 
by the hand and led me to my mother's side, where stooping 
over her, and making his voice very low, yet speaking as one 
who was calling into a long tunnel, he said : 

"My daughter! My daughter! Here is our little Mary. 
She has come home to see you." 

Never shall I forget what followed. First, my mother's 
long lashes parted and she looked at me with a dazed expres- 
sion as if still in a sort of dream. Then her big eyes began to 
blaze like torches in dark hollows, and then (though they had 
thought her strength was gone and her voice would never be 



70 THE WOMAN THOU GAVEST ME 

heard again) she raised herself in her bed, stretched out her 
arms to me, and cried in loud strong tones : 

' ' Mally veen ! My Mally veen ! ' ' 

How long I lay with my arms about my mother, and my 
mother 's arms about me I do not know. I only know that over 
my head I heard Father Dan saying, as if speaking to a child : 

"You are happy now, are you not?" 

' ' Yes, yes, I am happy now, ' ' my mother answered. 

"You have everything you want ? ' ' 

' ' Everything everything ! ' ' 

Then came my father's voice, saying: 

"Well, you've got your girl, Isabel. You wanted her, so 
we sent for her, and here she is." 

"You have been very good to me, Daniel," said my mother, 
who was kissing my forehead and crying in her joy. 

When I raised my head I found Father Dan in great excite- 
ment. 

"Did you see that then?" he was saying to Doctor Conrad. 
"I would have gone on my knees all the way to Blackwater 
to see it." 

"I couldn't have believed it possible," the Doctor replied. 

"Ah, what children we are, entirely. God confounds all 
our reckoning. We can't count with His miracles. And 
the greatest of all miracles is a mother's love for her 
child." 

"Let us leave her now, though," said the Doctor. "She's 
like herself again, but still . . ." 

"Yes, let us leave them together," whispered Father Dan, 
and having swept everybody out before him (I thought Aunt 
Bridget went away ashamed) he stepped off himself on tiptoe, 
as if treading on holy ground. 

Then my mother, who was holding my hand and sometimes 
putting it to her lips, said: 

"Tell me everything that has happened." 

As soon as my little tongue was loosed I told her all about 
my life at the Convent about the Reverend Mother and 
the nuns and the novices and the girls (all except Sister 
Angela and Alma) and the singing of the hymn to the Virgin 
talking on and on and on, without observing that, after a 
while, my mother's eyes had closed again, and that her hand 
had become cold and moist. 

At length she said: "Is it getting dark, Mary?" 

I told her it was night and the lamp was burning. 



MY GIRLHOOD 71 

"Is it going out then?" she asked, and when I answered 
that it was not she did not seem to hear, so I stopped talking, 
and for some time there was silence in which I heard nothing 
but the ticking of the clock on the mantelpiece, the barking 
of a sheep dog a long way off, and the husky breathing in my 
mother's throat. 

I was beginning to be afraid when the nurse returned. 
She was going to speak quite cheerfully, but after a glance at 
my mother she went out quickly and came back in a moment 
with Doctor Conrad and Father Dan. 

I heard the doctor say something about a change, whereupon 
Father Dan hurried away, and in a moment there was much 
confusion. The nurse spoke of taking me to another room 
but the doctor said : 

"No, our little woman will be brave," and then leading me 
aside he whispered that God was sending for my mother and 
I must be quiet and not cry. 

Partly undressing I climbed into my cot and lay still for 
the next half hour, while the doctor held his hand on my 
mother's pulse and the nurse spread a linen cloth over a table 
and put four or five lighted candles on it. 

I remember that I was thinking that if "God sending for 
my mother" meant that she was to be put into a box and 
buried under the ground it was terrible and cruel, and perhaps 
if I prayed to our Lady He would not find it in His heart 
to do so. I was trying to do this, beginning under my 
breath, "0 Holy Virgin, thou art so lovely, thou art so 
gracious . . ." when the nurse said: 

"Here they are back again." 

Then I heard footsteps outside, and going to the window I 
saw a sight not unlike that which I had seen on the night 
of the Waits. 

A group of men were coming towards the house, with 
Father Dan in the middle of them. Father Dan, with his 
coat hung over his arms like a cloak, was carrying something 
white in both hands, and the men were carrying torches to 
light him on his way. 

I knew what it was it was the Blessed Sacrament, which 
they were bringing to my mother, and when Father Dan had 
come into the room, saying "Peace be to this house," and laid 
a little white box on the table, and thrown off his coat, he 
was wearing his priest's vestments underneath. 

Then the whole of my father's household all except my 



72 THE WOMAN THOU GAVEST ME 

father himself came into my mother's room, including 
Aunt Bridget, who sat with folded arms in the darkness by 
the wall, and the servants, who knelt in a group by the door. 

Father Dan roused my mother by calling to her again, 
and after she had opened her eyes he began to read. Some- 
times his voice seemed to be choked with sobs, as if the heart 
of the man were suffering, and sometimes it pealed out loudly 
as if the soul of the priest were inspiring him. 

After Communion he gave my mother Extreme Unction 
anointing the sweet eyes which had seen no evil, the dear lips 
which had uttered no wrong, and the feet which had walked 
in the ways of God. 

All this time there was a solemn hush in the house like 
that of a church no sound within except my father's meas- 
ured tread in the room below, and none without except the 
muffled murmur which the sea makes when it is far away and 
going out. 

When all was over my mother seemed more at ease, and 
after asking for me and being told I was in the cot, she said : 

"You must all go and rest. Mary and I will be quite 
right now." 

A few minutes afterwards my mother and I were alone 
once more, and then she called me into her bed and clasped 
her arms about me and I lay with my face hidden in her neck. 

What happened thereafter seems to be too sacred to write 
of, almost too sacred to think about, yet it is all as a memory 
of yesterday, while other events of my life have floated away 
to the ocean of things that are forgotten and lost. 

' ' Listen, darling, ' ' she said, and then, speaking in whispers, 
she told me. she had heard all I had said about the Convent, 
and wondered if I would not like to live there always, be- 
coming one of the good and holy nuns. 

I must have made some kind of protest, for she went on to 
say how hard the world was to a woman and how difficult 
she had found it. 

"Not that your father has been to blame you must never 
think that, Mary, yet still . . . " 

But tears from her tender heart were stealing down her 
face and she had to stop. 

Even yet I had not realised all that the solemn time fore- 
boded, for I said something about staying with my mother; 
and then in her sweet voice, she told me nervously, breaking 
the news to me gently, that she was going to leave me, that 



MY GIRLHOOD 73 

she was going to heaven, but she would think of me when she 
was there, and if God permitted she would watch over me, or, 
if that might not be, she would ask our Lady to do so. 

"So you see we shall never be parted, never really. We 
shall always be together. Something tells me that wherever 
you are, and whatever you are doing, I shall know all about it. ' ' 

This comforted me, and I think it comforted my mother 
also, though God knows if it would have done so, if, with her 
dying eyes, she could have seen what was waiting for her 
child. 

It fills my heart brimful to think of what happened next. 

She told me to say a De Profundis for her sometimes, and 
to think of her when I sang the hymn to the Virgin. Then 
she kissed me and told me to go to sleep, saying she was 
going to sleep too, and if it should prove to be the eternal 
sleep, it would be only like going to sleep at night and awak- 
ing in the morning, and then we should be together again, 
and "the time between would not seem long." 

"So good-night, darling, and God bless you," she said. 

And as well as I could I answered her "Good-night!" 

"When I awoke from the profound slumber of childhood it 
was noon of the next day and the sun was shining. Doctor Con- 
rad was lifting me out of bed, and Father Dan, who had just 
thrown open the window, was saying in a tremulous Toice: 

"Your dear mother has gone to God." 

I began to cry, but he checked me and said : 

"Don't call her back. She's on her way to God's beautiful 
Paradise after all her suffering. Let her go ! " 

So I lost her, my mother, my saint, my angel. 

It was Easter Eve, and the church bells were ringing the 
Gloria. 

EIGHTEENTH CHAPTER 

AFTER my mother's death there was no place left for me in 
my father's house. 

Betsy Beauty (who was now called Miss Betsy and gave 
herself more than ever the airs of the daughter of the family) 
occupied half her days with the governess who had been 
engaged to teach her, and the other half in driving, dressed in 
beautiful clothes, to the houses of the gentry round about. 

Nessy MacLeod, called the young mistress, had become my 



74 THE WOMAN THOU GAVEST ME 

father's secretary, and spent most of her time in his private 
room, a privilege which enlarged her pride without improving 
her manners. 

Martin Conrad I did not see, for in reward for some success 
at school the doctor had allowed him to spend his Easter 
holidays in London in order to look at Nansen's ship, the 
Pram, which had just then arrived in the Thames. 

Hence it happened that though home made a certain tug at 
me, with its familiar sights and sounds, and more than once I 
turned with timid steps towards my father's busy room, 
intending to say, "Please, father, don't send me back to 
school,'* I made no demur when, six or seven days after the 
funeral, Aunt Bridget began to prepare for my departure. 

"There's odds of women," said Tommy the Mate, when I 
went into the garden to say good-bye to him. "They're like 
sheep 's broth, is women. If there 's a head and a heart in them 
they're good, and if there isn't you might as well be supping 
hot water. Our Big Woman is hot water but she'll die 
for all." 

Within a fortnight I was back at the Convent, and there 
the Reverend Mother atoned to me for every neglect. 

"I knew you would come back to me," she said, and from 
that hour onward she seemed to be trying to make up to me 
for the mother I had lost. 

I became deeply devoted to her. As a consequence her 
spirit became my spirit, and, little by little, the religious side 
of the life of the Convent took complete possession of me. 

At first I loved the church and its services because the 
Reverend Mother loved them, and perhaps also for the sake of 
the music, the incense, the flowers and the lights on the altar ; 
but after I had taken my communion, the mysteries of our 
religion took hold of me the Confessional with its sense of 
cleansing and the unutterable sweetness of the Mass. 

For a long time there was nothing to disturb this religious 
side of my mind. My father never sent for me, and as often 
as the holidays came round the Reverend Mother took me with 
her to her country home at Nemi. 

That was a beautiful place a sweet white cottage, some 
twenty kilometres from Rome, at the foot of Monte Cavo, in 
the middle of the remains of a mediaeval village which con- 
tained a castle and a monastery, and had a little blue lake 
lying like an emerald among the green and red of the grass 
and poppies in the valley below. 



MY GIRLHOOD 75 

In the hot months of summer the place was like a Paradise 
to me, with its roses growing wild by the wayside; its green 
lizards running on the rocks; its goats; its sheep; its vine- 
yards; its brown-faced boys in velvet, and its gleesome girls 
in smart red petticoats and gorgeous outside stays ; its shrines 
and its blazing sunsets, which seemed to girdle the heavens 
with quivering bands of purple and gold. 

Years went by without my being aware of their going, for 
after a while I became entirely happy. 

I heard frequently from home. Occasionally it was from 
Betsy Beauty, who had not much to say beyond stories of 
balls at Government House, where she had danced with the 
young Lord Raa, and of hunts at which she had ridden with 
him. More rarely it was from Aunt Bridget, who usually 
began by complaining of the ever-increasing cost of my con- 
vent clothes and ended with accounts of her daughter's last 
new costume and how well she looked in it. 

Prom Xessy MacLeod and my father I never heard at all, 
but Father Dan was my constant correspondent and he told 
me everything. 

First of my father himself that he had carried out many 
of his great enterprises, his marine works, electric railways, 
drinking and dancing palaces, which had brought tens of 
thousands of visitors and hundreds of thousands of pounds to 
Elian, though the good Father doubted the advantage of such 
innovations and lamented the decline of piety which had 
followed on the lust for wealth. 

Next of Aunt Bridget that she was bringing up her 
daughter in the ways of worldly vanity and cherishing a 
serpent in her bosom (meaning Nessy MacLeod) who would 
poison her heart some day. 

Next, of Tommy the Mate that he sent his "best respec's" 
to the "lil-missy" but thought she was well out of the way 
of the Big Woman who ' ' was getting that highty-tighty ' ' that 
"you couldn't say Tom to a cat before her but she was agate 
of you to make it Thomas. ' ' 

Then of Martin Conrad that he was at college "studying 
for a doctor, ' ' but his heart was still at the North Pole and he 
was "like a sea-gull in the nest of a wood pigeon," always 
longing to be out on the wild waves. 

Finally of the young Lord Raa that the devil's dues must 
be in the man, for after being "sent down" from Oxford 
he had wasted his substance in riotous living in London, 



76 THE WOMAN THOU GAVEST ME 

and his guardian had been heard to say he must many a 
rich wife soon or his estates would go to the hammer. 

Such was the substance of the news that reached me over 
a period of six years. Yet welcome as were Father Dan's 
letters the life they described seemed less and less important 
to me as time went on, for the outer world was slipping away 
from me altogether and I was becoming more and more 
immersed in my spiritual exercises. 

I spent much of my time reading religious books the life 
of Saint Teresa, the meditations of Saint Francis of Sales, 
and, above all, the letters and prayers of our Blessed Margaret 
Mary Alacoque, whose love of the Sacred Heart was like a 
flaming torch to my excited spirit. 

The soul of Rome, too, seemed to enter into my soul not 
the new Rome, for of that I knew nothing, but the old Rome, 
the holy city, that could speak to me in the silence of the night 
within the walls of my convent-school, with its bells of the 
Dominican and Franciscan monasteries on either side, its 
stories of miracles performed on the sick and dying by the 
various shrines of the Madonna, its accounts of the vast multi- 
tudes of the faithful who came from all ends of the earth 
to the ceremonials at St. Peter's, and, above all, its sense of 
the immediate presence of the Pope, half a mile away, the 
Vicar and mouthpiece of God Himself. 

The end of it all was that I wished to become a nun. I said 
nothing of my desire to anybody, not even to the Reverend 
Mother, but day by day my resolution grew. 

Perhaps it was natural that the orphaned and homeless girl 
should plunge with all this passion into the aurora of a new 
spiritual life ; but when I think how my nature was made for 
love, human love, the love of husband and children, I cannot 
but wonder with a thrill of the heart whether my mother in 
heaven, who, while she was on earth, had fought so hard with 
my father for the body of her child, was now fighting with him 
for her soul. 

I was just eighteen years of age when my desire to become 
a nun reached its highest point, and then received its final 
overthrow. 

Mildred Bankes, who had returned to Rome, and was living 
as a novice with the Little Sisters of the Poor, was about to 
make her vows, and the Reverend Mother took me to see the 
ceremony. 

Never shall I forget the effect of it. The sweet summer 
morning, tingling with snow-white sunshine, the little white 



MY GIRLHOOD 77 

chapel in the garden of the Convent, covered with flowers, 
the altar with its lighted tapers, the friends from without clad 
in gay costumes as for a festival, the bishop in his bright 
vestments, and then, Mildred herself, dressed as a bride in a 
beautiful white gown with a long white veil and attended by 
other novices as bridesmaids. 

It was just like a marriage to look upon, except for the 
absence of a visible bridegroom, the invisible one being Christ. 
And the taking of the vows was like a marriage service too 
only more solemn and sacred and touching the bride receiv- 
ing the ring on her finger, and promising to serve and worship 
her celestial lover from that day forward, for better for worse, 
for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, as long as life 
should last and through the eternity that was to follow it. 

I cried all through the ceremony for sheer joy of its loveli- 
ness ; and when it was over and we went into the refectory, and 
Mildred told me she was returning to England to work among 
the fallen girls of London, I vowed in my heart, though I 
hardly understood what she was going to do, that I would 
follow her example. 

It was something of a jar to go back into the streets, so full 
of noise and bustle ; and all the way home with the Reverend 
Mother I was forming the resolution of telling her that very 
night that I meant to be a nun, for, stirred to the depths of my 
soul by what I had seen and remembering what my poor 
mother had wished for me, I determined that no other life 
would I live under any circumstances. 

Then came the shock. 

As we drew up at our door a postman was delivering letters. 
One of them was for the Reverend Mother and I saw in a 
moment that it was in my father's handwriting. She read it 
in silence, and in silence she handed it to me. It ran : 

"Madam, 

"I have come to Rome to take back my daughter. I believe 
her education will now be finished, and I reckon the time has 
arrived to prepare her for the change in life that is before her. 

"The Bishop of our diocese has come with me, and we pro- 
pose to pay our respects to you at ten o'clock prompt to- 
morrow morning. 

"Tours, Madam, 

"DANIEL O'NEILL." 



78 THE WOMAN THOU GAYEST ME 



NINETEENTH CHAPTER 

I SAW, as by a flash of light, what was before me, and my 
whole soul rose in rebellion against it. That my father after 
all the years during which he had neglected me, should come to 
me now, when my plans were formed, and change the whole 
current of my life, was an outrage an iniquity. It might be 
his right his natural right but if so his natural right was a 
spiritual wrong and I would resist it to my last breath and 
my last hour I would resist it. 

Such were the brave thoughts with which I passed that night, 
but at ten o 'clock next morning, when I was summoned to meet 
my father himself, it was on trembling limbs and with a quiver- 
ing heart that I went down to the Reverend Mother's room. 

Except that his hair was whiter than before my father was 
not much changed. He rose as I entered, saying, "Here she 
is herself," and when I went up to him he put his hands on 
my shoulders and looked into my face. 

"Quite a little Italian woman grown! Like your mother 
though," he said, and then speaking over my head to the 
Bishop, who sat on the other side of the room, he added : 

"Guess this will do, Bishop, eh?" 

"Perfectly," said the Bishop. 

I was colouring in confusion at the continued scrutiny, with 
a feeling of being looked over for some unexplained purpose, 
when the Reverend Mother called me, and turning to go to 
her I saw, by the look of pain on her face that she, too, had 
been hurt by it. 

She put me to sit on a stool by the side of her chair, and 
taking my right hand she laid it in her lap and held it there 
during the whole of the interview. 

The Bishop, whom I had never seen before, was the first to 
speak. He was a type of the fashionable ecclesiastic, suave, 
smiling, faultlessly dressed in silk soutane and silver 
buckled shoes, and wearing a heavy gold chain with a 
jewelled cross. 

"Reverend Mother," he said, "you would gather from Mr. 
O'Neill's letter that he wishes to remove his daughter imme- 
diately I presume there will be no difficulty in his doing 
so?" 

The Reverend Mother did not speak, but I think she must 
have bent her head. 

"Naturally," said the Bishop, "there will be a certain delay 



MY GIRLHOOD 79 

while suitable clothes are being made for her, but I have no 
doubt you will give Mr. O'Neill your help in these prepara- 
tions. ' ' 

My head was down, and I did not see if the Reverend Mother 
bowed again. But the two gentlemen, apparently satisfied 
with her silence, began to talk of the best date for my removal, 
and just when I was quivering with fear that without a word 
of protest I was to be taken away, the Reverend Mother said : 

"Monsignor!" 

"Reverend Mother!" 

"You are aware that this child" here she patted my 
trembling hand "has been with me for ten years?" 

"I am given to understand so." 

"And that during that time she has only once been home?" 

"I was not aware but no doubt it is as you say." 

"In short, that during the greater part of her life she has 
been left to my undivided care?" 

"You have been very good to her, very, and I'm sure her 
family are extremely grateful." 

"In that case, Monsignor, doesn't it seem to you that I 
am entitled to know why she is being so suddenly taken away 
from me, and what is the change in life which Mr. O'Neill 
referred to in his letter ? ' ' 

The smile which had been playing upon the Bishop's face 
was smitten away from it by that question, and he looked 
anxiously across at my father. 

"Tell her," said my father, and then, while my heart 
thumped in my bosom and the Reverend Mother stroked my 
hand to compose me, the Bishop gave a brief explanation. 

The time had not come when it would be prudent to be more 
definite, but he might say that Mr. O'Neill was trying to 
arrange a happy and enviable future for his daughter, and 
therefore he wished her to return home to prepare for it. 

"Does that mean marriage?" said the Reverend Mother. 

"It may be so. I am not quite prepared to . . ." 

"And that a husband has already been found for her?" 

"That too perhaps. I will not say . . ." 

"Monsignor," said the Reverend Mother, sitting up with 
dignity, "is that fair?" 

"Fair?" 

"Is it fair that after ten years in which her father has 
done nothing for her, he should determine what her life is to 
be, without regard to her wish and will?" 



80 THE WOMAN THOU GAVEST ME 

I raised my eyes and saw that the Bishop looked aghast. 

"Reverend Mother, you surprise me," he said. "Since 
when has a father ceased to be the natural guardian of his 
child? Has he not been so since the beginning of the world? 
Doesn 't the Church itself build its laws on that foundation ? ' ' 

"Does it?" said the Reverend Mother shortly. And then 
(I could feel her hand trembling as she spoke) : "Some of its 
servants do, I know. But when did the Church say that any- 
body no matter who a father or anybody else should 
take the soul of another, and control it and govern it, and 
put it in prison? . . ." 

"My good lady," said the Bishop, "would you call it put- 
ting the girl in prison to marry her into an illustrious family, 
to give her an historic name, to surround her with the dignity 
and distinction . . ." 

"Bishop," said my father, raising his hand, "I guess it's 
my right to butt in here, isn 't it ? " 

I saw that my father's face had been darkening while the 
Reverend Mother spoke, and now, rolling his heavy body in 
his chair so as to face her, he said : 

"Excuse me, ma'am, but when you say I've done nothing 
for my gel here I suppose you'll allow I've kept her and 
educated her?" 

"You've kept and educated your dogs and horses, also, I 
dare say, but do you claim the same rights over a human 
being?" 

"I do, ma'am I think I do. And when the human being 
happens to be my own daughter I don't allow that anybody 
else has anything to say." 

"If her mother were alive would she have nothing to say?" 

I thought my father winced at that word, but he answered : 

"Her mother would agree to anything I thought best." 

' ' Her mother, so far as I can see, was a most unselfish, most 
submissive, most unhappy woman," said the Reverend 
Mother. 

My father glanced quickly at me and then, after a moment, 
he said : 

"I'm obliged to you, ma'am, much obliged. But as I'm 
not a man to throw words away I'll ask you to tell me what 
all this means. Does it mean that you 've made plans of your 
own for my daughter without consulting me ? " 

"No, sir." 

"Then perhaps it means that the gel herself . . ." 



MY GIRLHOOD 81 

"That may be so or not I cannot say. But when you sent 
your daughter to a convent-school . . ." 

' ' Wrong, ma 'am, wrong for once. It was my wife 'a sister 
who thinks the gel disobedient and rebellious and unruly ..." 

"Then your wife's sister is either a very stupid or a very 
bad-hearted woman." 

"Ma'am?" 

"I have known your daughter longer than she has, and 
there isn't a word of truth in what she says." 

It was as much as I could do not to fall on the Reverend 
Mother 's neck, but I clung to her hand with a convulsive grasp. 

"May be so, ma'am, may be no," said my father. "But 
when you talk about my sending my daughter to a convent- 
school I would have you know that I 've been so busy with my 
business . . ." 

"That you haven't had time to take care of the most 
precious thing God gave you." 

"Ma'am," said my father, rising to his feet, "may I ask 
what right you have to speak to me as if . . ." 

"The right of one who for ten years has been a mother to 
your motherless child, sir, while you have neglected and 
forgotten her." 

At that my father, whose bushy eyebrows were heavily 
contracted, turned to the Bishop. 

' ' Bishop, ' ' he said, ' ' is this what I 've been paying my money 
for? Ten years' fees, and middling high ones too, I'm 
thinking?" 

And then the Bishop, apparently hoping to make peace, 
said suavely: 

"But aren't we crossing the river before we reach the 
bridge ? The girl herself may have no such objections. . . . 
Have you?" he asked, turning to me. 

I was trembling more than ever now, and at first I could 
not reply. 

"Don't you wish to go back home with your father?" 

"No, sir," I answered. 

"And why not, please?" 

"Because my father's home is no home to me because my 
aunt has always been unkind to me, and because my father 
has never cared for me or protected me, and because . . ." 

"Well, what else?" 

"Because . . . because I wish to become a nun." 

p 



82 THE WOMAN THOU GAYEST ME 

There was silence for a moment, and then my father broke 
into bitter laughter. 

"So that's it, is itT I thought as much. You want to go 
into partnership with the Mother in the nun business, eh?" 

"My mother wished me to become a nun, and I wish it 
myself, sir." 

"Your mother was a baby that's what she was." 

"My mother was an angel, sir," I said, bridling up, "and 
when she was dying she hoped I should become a nun, and I 
can never become anything else under any circumstance." 

"Bah!" said my father, with a contemptuous lift of the 
hand, and then turning to the Reverend Mother he said: 

"Hark here, ma'am. There's an easy way and a hard way 
in most everything. I take the easy way first, and if it won 't 
work I take the hard way next, and then it's stiff pulling for 
the people who pull against me. I came to Rome to take my 
daughter home. I don't feel called upon to explain why I 
want to take her home, or what I 'm going to do with her when 
I get her there. I believe I 've got the rights of a father to do 
what I mean to do, and that it will be an ugly business for 
anybody who aids and abets my daughter in resisting her 
father's will. So 111 leave her here a week longer, and when 
I come back, 111 expect her to be ready and waiting and 
willing ready and waiting and willing, mind you to go 
along with me." 

After saying this my father faced about and with his heavy 
flat step went out of the room, whereupon the Bishop bowed 
to the Reverend Mother and followed him. 

My heart was by this time in fierce rebellion all that the 
pacifying life of the convent-school had done for me in ten 
years being suddenly swept away and I cried : 

"I won't do it! I won't do it!" 

But I had seen that the Reverend Mother's face had 
suddenly become very white while my father spoke to her at 
the end and now she said, in a timid, almost frightened 
tone: 

"Mary, well go out to Nemi to-day. I have something to 
say to you." 

TWENTIETH CHAPTER 

IN the late afternoon of the same day we were sitting together 
for the last time on the terrace of the Reverend Mother's 
villa. 



MY GIRLHOOD 83 

It was a peaceful evening, a sweet and holy time. Not a 
leaf was stirring, not a breath of wind was in the air; but the 
voice of a young boy, singing a love-song, came np from some- 
where among the rocky ledges of the vineyards below, and 
while the bell of the monastic church behind us was ringing the 
Ave Maria, the far-off bell of the convent church at Gonzano 
was answering from the other side of the lake like angels 
calling* to each other from long distances in the sky. 

"Mary," said the Reverend Mother, "I want to tell yon a 
story. It is the story of my own life mine and my sister's 
and my father's." 

I was sitting by her side and she was holding my hand in 
her lap, and patting it, as she had done during the interview 
of the morning. 

"They say the reason so few women become nuns is that a 
woman is too attached to her home to enter the holy life until 
she has suffered shipwreck in the world. That may be so 
with most women. It was not so with me. 

"My father was what is called a self-made man. But his 
fortune did not content him. He wanted to found a family. 
If he had had a son this might have been easy. Having only 
two daughters, he saw no way bnt that of marrying one of us 
into the Italian nobility. 

"My sister was the first to disappoint him. She fell in love 
with a young Roman musician. The first time the young man 
asked for my sister he was contemptuously refused; the 
second time he was insulted ; the third time he was flung out 
of the house. His nature was headstrong and passionate, and 
so was my father's. If either had been different the result 
might not have been the same. Yet who knows? "Who can 
say?*' 

The Reverend Mother paused for a moment The boy's 
voice in the vineyard was going on. 

"To remove my sister from the scene of temptation my 
father took her from Rome to our villa in the hills above 
Albano. But the young musician followed her. Since my 
father would not permit him to marry her he was determined 
that she should fly with him, and when she hesitated to do so he 
threatened her. If she did not meet him at a certain hour on a 
certain night my father would be dead in the morning." 

The Keverend Mother paused again. The boy's voice had 
ceased ; the daylight was dying out. 

"My sister could not bring herself to sacrifice either her 



84 THE WOMAN THOU GAVEST ME 

father or her lover. Hence she saw only one way left to 
sacrifice herself." 

"Herself?" 

The Reverend Mother patted my hand. "Isn't that what 
women in tragic circumstances are always doing?" she said. 

"By some excuse I don't know what she persuaded our 
father to change rooms with her that night he going upstairs 
to her bedroom in the tower, and she to his on the ground floor 
at the back, opening on to the garden and the pine forest 
that goes up the hill. 

"What happened after that nobody ever knew exactly. In 
the middle of the night the servants heard two pistol shots, and 
next morning my sister was found dead shot to the heart 
through an open window as she lay in my father's bed. 

"The authorities tried in vain to trace the criminal. Only 
one person had any idea of his identity. That was my father, 
and in his fierce anger he asked himself what he ought to do 
in order to punish the man who had killed his daughter. 

"Then a strange thing happened. On the day before the 
funeral the young musician walked into my father's room. 
His face was white and wasted, and his eyes were red and 
swollen. He had come to ask if he might be allowed to be one 
of those to carry the coffin. My father consented. 'I'll leave 
him alone,' he thought. 'The man is punished enough.' 

"All the people of Albano came to the funeral and there 
was not a dry eye as the cortege passed from our chapel to the 
grave. Everybody knew the story of my sister's hopeless love, 
but only two in the world knew the secret of her tragic death 
her young lover, who was sobbing aloud as he staggered along 
with her body on his shoulder, and her old father, who was 
walking bareheaded and in silence, behind him. ' ' 

My heart was beating audibly and the Reverend Mother 
stroked my hand to compose me perhaps to compose herself 
also. It was now quite dark, the stars were coming out, and 
the bells of the two monasteries on opposite sides of the lake 
were ringing the first hour of night. 

"That's my sister's story, Mary," said the Reverend Mother 
after a while, "and the moral of my own is the same, though 
the incidents are different. 

"I was now my father's only child and all his remaining 
hopes centred in me. So he set himself to find a husband 
for me before the time came when I should form an attachment 



MY GIRLHOOD 85 

for myself. His choice fell on a middle-aged Roman noble of 
distinguished but impoverished family. 

' ' ' He has a great name ; you will have a great fortune 
what more do you want?' said my father. 

""We were back in Rome by this time, and there at school 
or elsewhere I had formed the conviction that a girl must 
passionately love the man she marries, and I did not love 
the Roman noble. I had also been led to believe that a girl 
should be the first and only passion of the man who marries 
her, and, young as I was, I knew that my middle-aged lover 
had had other domestic relations. 

"Consequently I demurred, but my father threatened and 
stormed, and then, remembering my sister's fate, I pretended 
to agree, and I was formally engaged. 

"I never meant to keep my promise, and I began to think 
out schemes by which to escape from it. Only one way 
seemed open to me then, and cherishing the thought of it in 
secret, I waited and watched and made preparations for 
carrying out my purpose. 

"At length the moment came to me. It was mid-Lent, and 
a masked ball was given by my fiance's friends in one of the 
old Roman palaces. I can see it still the great hall, ablaze 
with glowing frescoes, beautiful Venetian candelabras, gilded 
furniture, red and yellow damask and velvet, and then the 
throng of handsome men in many uniforms and beautiful 
women with rows of pearls falling from their naked throats. 

"I had dressed myself as a Bacchante in a white tunic 
embroidered in gold, with bracelets on my bare arms, a tiger- 
skin band over my forehead, and a cluster of grapes in 
my hair. 

"I danced every dance, I remember, most of them with my 
middle-aged lover, and I suppose no one seemed so gay and 
happy and heedless. At three o'clock in the morning I re- 
turned home in my father's carriage. At six I had entered 
a convent. 

"Nobody in the outer world ever knew what had become of 
me, and neither did I know what happened at home after I 
left it. The rule of the convent was very strict. Sometimes, 
after morning prayers, the Superior would say, 'The mother 
of one of you is dead pray for her soul, ' and that was all we 
ever heard of the world outside. 

"But nature is a mighty thing, my child, and after five 
years I became restless and unhappy. I began to have mis- 



86 THE WOMAN THOU GAYEST ME 

givings about my vocation, but the Mother, who was wise 
and human, saw what was going on in my heart. 'You are 
thinking about your father,' she said, 'that he is growing old, 
and needing a daughter to take care of him. Go out, and 
nurse him, and then come back to your cell and pray.' 

"I went, but when I reached my father's house a great 
shock awaited me. A strange man was in the porter's lodge, 
and our beautiful palace was let out in apartments. My father 
was dead three years dead and buried. After my disap- 
pearance he had shut himself up in his shame and grief, for, 
little as I had suspected it and hard and cruel as I had thought 
him, he had really and truly loved me. During his last days 
his mind had failed him and he had given away all his fortune 
scattered it, no one knew how, as something that was quite 
useless and then he died, alone and broken-hearted." 

That was the end of the Reverend Mother 's narrative. She 
did not try to explain or justify or condemn her own or her 
sister's conduct, neither did she attempt to apply the moral 
of her story to my own circumstances. She left me to do 
that for myself. 

I had been spell-bound while she spoke, creeping closer and 
closer to her until my head was on her breast. 

For some time longer we sat like this in the soft Italian 
night, while the fire-flies came out in clouds among the unseen 
flowers of the garden and the dark air seemed to be alive with 
sparks of light. 

When the time came to go to bed the Reverend Mother took 
me to my room, and after some cheerful words she left me. 
But hardly had I lain down, shaken to the heart's core by 
what I had heard, and telling myself that the obedience of a 
daughter to her father, whatever he might demand of her, was 
an everlasting and irreversible duty, imposed by no human 
law-giver, and that marriage was a necessity, which was forced 
upon most women by a mysterious and unyielding law of 
God, when the door opened and the Reverend Mother, with a 
lamp in her hand, came in again. 

"Mary," she said, "I forgot to tell you that I am leaving 
the Sacred Heart. The Sisters of my old convent have asked 
me to go back as Superior. I have obtained permission to do 
so and am going shortly, so that in any case we should have 
been parted soon. It is the Convent of . . ." 

Here she gave me the name of a private society of cloistered 
nuns in the heart of Rome. 



MY GIRLHOOD 87 

"I hope you will write to me as often as possible, and come 
to see me whenever you can. . . . And if it should ever 
occur that . . . but no, I will not think of that. Marriage 
is a sacred tie, too, and under proper conditions God blesses 
and hallows it." 

With that she left me in the darkness. The church bell was 
ringing, the monks of the Passionist monastery were getting 
up for their midnight offices. 

TWENTY-FIRST CHAPTER 

A WEEK later I was living with -my father in the Hotel Europa 
on the edge of the Piazza di Spagna. 

He was kinder to me than he had ever been before, but he 
did not tell me what the plans were which he had formed for 
my future, and I was left to discover them for myself. 

Our apartment was constantly visited by ecclesiastics 
Monsignori, Archbishops, even one of the Cardinals of the 
Propaganda, brought there by Bishop Walsh (the Bishop of 
our own diocese), and I could not help but hear portions 
of their conversation. 

' ' It will be difficult, extremely difficult, ' ' the Cardinal would 
say. "Such marriages are not encouraged by the Church, 
which holds that they are usually attended by the worst conse- 
quences to both wife and husband. Still under the excep- 
tional circumstances that the bridegroom 's family was Catho- 
lic before it was Protestant it is possible, just possible ..." 

"Cardinal," my father would answer, while his strong face 
was darkening, "excuse me, sir, but I'm kind of curious to get 
the hang of this business. Either it can be done or it can't. 
If it can, we '11 just sail in and do it. But if it can 't, I believe 
I '11 go home quick and spend my money another way. ' ' 

Then there would be earnest assurances that in the end 
all would be right, only Rome moved slowly, and it would be 
necessary to have patience and wait. 

My father waited three weeks, and meantime he occupied 
himself in seeing the sights of the old city. 

But the mighty remains which are the luminous light-houses 
of the past the Forum with the broken columns of its dead 
centuries; the Coliseum with its gigantic ruins, like the 
desolate crater of a moon; the Campagna with its hollow, 
crumbling tombs and shattered aqueducts, only vexed and 
irritated him. 



88 THE WOMAN THOU GAYEST ME 

"Guess if I had my way," he said, "I would just clean out 
this old stone-yard of monuments to dead men, and make it 
more fit for living ones." 

At length the Bishop came to say that the necessary business 
had been completed, and that to mark its satisfactory settle- 
ment the Pope had signified his willingness to receive in 
private audience both my father and myself. 

This threw me into a state of the greatest nervousness, for 
I had begun to realise that my father's business concerned 
myself, so that when, early the following morning (clad 
according to instructions, my father in evening dress and I in 
a long black mantilla), we set out for the Vatican, I was in a 
condition of intense excitement. 

What happened after we got out of the carriage at the 
bronze gate near St. Peter's I can only describe from a vague 
and feverish memory. I remember going up a great staircase, 
past soldiers in many-coloured coats, into a vast corridor, 
where there were other soldiers in other costumes. I remem- 
ber going on and on, through salon after salon, each larger 
and more luxurious than the last, and occupied by guards 
still more gorgeously dressed than the guards we had left 
behind. I remember coming at length to a door at which a 
Chamberlain, wearing a sword, knelt and knocked softly, and 
upon its being opened announced our names. And then I 
remember that after all this grandeur as of a mediaeval court 
I found myself in a plain room like a library with a simple 
white figure before me, and ... I was in the presence 
of the Holy Father himself. 

Can I ever forget that moment? 

I had always been taught in the Convent to think of the 
Pope with a reverence only second to that which was due to 
the Saints, so at first I thought I should faint, and how I 
reached the Holy Father's feet I do not know. I only know 
that he was very sweet and kind to me, holding out the delicate 
white hand on which he wore the fisherman's emerald ring, 
and smoothing my head after I had kissed it. 

When I recovered myself sufficiently to look up I saw that 
he was an old man, with a very pale and saintly face; and 
when he spoke it was in such a soft and fatherly voice that I 
loved and worshipped him. 

"So this is the little lady," he said, "who is to be the 
instrument in the hands of Providence in bringing back an 
erring family into the folds of Mother Church." 



MY GIRLHOOD 89 

Somebody answered him, and then he spoke to me about 
marriage, saying it was a holy state, instituted by the Almighty 
under a natural law and sanctioned by our divine Redeemer 
into the dignity of a Sacrament, so that those who entered it 
might live together in peace and love. 

"It is a spiritual and sacred union, my child," he said, 
"a type of the holy mystery of Christ's relation to His 
Church." 

Then he told me I was to make the best possible preparation 
for marriage in order to obtain the abundant graces of God, 
and to approach the altar only after penance and communion. 

"And when you leave the church, my daughter," he said, 
"do not profane the day of your marriage by any sinful 
thought or act, but remember to bear yourself as if Jesus 
Christ Himself were with you, as He was at the marriage-feast 
in Cana of Galilee." 

Then he warned me that when I entered into the solemn 
contract of holy matrimony I was to do so in the full con- 
sciousness that it could not be broken but by death. 

"Whom God has joined together let no man put asunder 
remember that, too, my daughter." 

Finally he said something about children that a Catholic 
marrying a person of another religion must not enter into any 
agreement whereby any of her children should be brought up 
in any other than the Catholic faith. 

After that, and something said to my father which I can- 
not recall, he gave me his blessing, in words so beautiful and a 
voice so sweet that it fell on me like the soft breeze that comes 
out of the rising sun on a summer morning. 

"May the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God 
of Jacob be with you, my daughter. May your marriage be 
a yoke of love and peace, and may you see your children's 
children to the third and fourth generation." 

Then he raised me to my feet, and at a touch from the 
Chamberlain, I backed out of the room. 

When the door had closed on me I drew a deep breath, 
feeling as if I had come out of the Holy of Holies, and when 
I reached the Piazza of St. Peter's and came again upon the 
sight and sound of common things the cabs and electric cars 
it was the same as if I had suddenly descended from heaven 
to earth. 

After my audience with the Pope, following on the Reverend 
Mother's story, all my objections to marriage had gone, and I 



90 THE WOMAN THOU GAYEST ME 

wished to tell my father so, but an opportunity did not arise 
until late the same night and then it was he who was the first 
to speak. 

Being in good spirits, after a dinner to the ecclesiastics, he 
said, as soon as his guests had gone speaking in the tone of 
one who believed he was doing a great thing for me 

"Mary, matters are not quite settled yet, but you might 
as well know right here what we 're trying to fix up for you. ' ' 

Then he told me. 

I was to marry the young Lord Raa ! 

I was stunned. It was just as if the power of thought had 
been smitten out of me. 

TWENTY-SECOND CHAPTER 

THAT night, and during the greater part of the following day, 
I felt, without quite knowing why, as if I were living under 
the dark cloud of a gathering thunderstorm. All my fear of 
the world, and my desire to escape from it, had fallen upon me 
afresh. Hence it was not altogether by the blind leading of 
fate that half an hour before Ave Maria I entered the church 
of the Convent which the Reverend Mother had given me the 
name of. 

The church was empty when I pushed past the leather hang- 
ing that covered the door, but the sacristan was lighting the 
candles for Benediction, so I went up to the bronze screen, 
the Cancello, that divides the public part from the part occu- 
pied by the Sisters, and knelt on the nearest step. 

After a while the church-bell rang overhead, and then (the 
congregation having gathered in the meantime) the nuns 
came in by way of a corridor which seemed to issue out of the 
darkness from under a figure of the Virgin and Child. 

They were all in white, snow-white from head to foot, with 
a glimmer of blue scapular beneath their outer garment, and 
they wore long thick veils which entirely concealed their 
features when they entered but were raised when they reached 
their seats and faced the altar. 

Familiar as I was with similar scenes this one moved me as 
I had never before been moved the silent white figures, 
with hands clasped on their breasts, coming in one by one with 
noiseless and unhurried footsteps, like a line of wraiths from 
another world. 

But a still deeper emotion was to come to me. 



MY GIRLHOOD 91 

As the last of the nuns entered, the Superior as I knew 
she would be, I recognised her instantly. It was my own 
Keverend Mother herself; and when, after kneeling to the 
altar, she came down to her seat nearest to the screen, imme- 
diately in front of the place where I knelt, I knew by the 
tremor of the clasped hands which held the rosary, that she 
had seen and recognised me. 

I trembled and my heart thumped against my breast. 

Then the priest entered and the Litany began. It was sung 
throughout. Almost the whole of the service was sung. Never 
had Benediction seemed so beautiful, so pathetic, so appealing, 
so irresistible. 

By the time the Tantum ergo had been reached and the 
sweet female voices, over the soft swell of the organ, were 
rising to the vaulted roof in sorrowful reparation for the sins 
of all sinners in the world who did not pray for themselves, 
the religious life was calling to me as it had never called before. 

"Come away from the world," it seemed to say. "Obedi- 
ence to your heavenly Father cancels all duty to your earthly 
one. Leave everything you fear behind you, and find peace 
and light and love." 

The service was over, the nuns had dropped their veils and 
gone out as slowly and noiselessly as they had come in (the 
last of them with her head down) : the sacristan with his long 
rod was extinguishing the candles on the altar ; the church was 
growing dark and a lay-sister in black was rattling a bunch 
of keys at the door behind me before I moved from my place 
beside the rails. 

Then I awoke as from a dream, and looking longingly back 
at the dark corridor down which the nuns had disappeared, 
I was turning to go when I became aware that a young man 
was standing beside me and smiling into my face. 

"Mally," he said very softly, and he held out his hand. 

Something in the voice made me giddy, something in the 
blue eyes made me tremble. I looked at him but did not speak. 

' ' Don 't you know me, Mally ? " he said. 

I felt as if a rosy veil were falling over my face and neck. A 
flood of joy was sweeping through me. At last I knew who 
it was. 

It was Martin Conrad, grown to be a man, a tall, powerful, 
manly man, but with the same face still an elusive ghost of 
the boy's face I used to look up to and love. 

A few minutes later we were out on the piazza in front of 



92 THE WOMAN THOU GAVEST ME 

the church, and with a nervous rush of joyous words he was 
telling me what had brought him to Rome. 

Having just ''scraped through" his examinations, and 
taken his degree couldn't have done so if the examiners had 
not been ' ' jolly good ' ' to him he had heard that Lieut. . . . 
; was going down to the great ice barrier that bounds the 
South Pole, to investigate the sources of winds and tides, so he 
had offered himself as doctor to the expedition and been 
accepted. 

Sailing from the Thames ten days ago they had put into 
Naples that morning for coal, and taking advantage of the 
opportunity he had run up to Rome, remembering that I was at 
school here, but never expecting to see me, and coming upon me 
by the merest accident in the world something having said to 
him, "Let's go in here and look at this queer old church." 

He had to leave to-morrow at two, though, having to sail the 
same night, but of course it would be luck to go farther south 
than Charcot and make another attack on the Antarctic night. 

I could see that life was full of faith and hope and all good 
things for him, and remembering some episodes of the past 
I said: 

"So you are going 'asploring' in earnest at last?" 

"At last," he answered, and we looked into each other's 
eyes and laughed as we stood together on the church steps, 
with little tender waves of feeling from our childhood sweep- 
ing to our feet. 

"And you?" he said. "You look just the same. I knew 
you instantly. Yet you are changed too. So grown and so 
. . . so wonderfully . . ." 

I knew what he meant to say, and being too much of a 
child to pretend not to know, and too much of a woman 
(notwithstanding my nun-like impulses) not to find joy in it, 
I said I was glad. 

"You've left the Convent, I see. When did that happen?" 

I told him three weeks ago that my father had come for 
me and we were going back to Elian. 

"And then? What are you going to do then?" he asked. 

For a moment I felt ashamed to answer, but at last I told 
him that I was going home to be married. 

"Married? When? To whom?" 

I said I did not know when, but it was to be to the young 
Lord Raa. 



MY GIRLHOOD 93 

"Raa? Did you say Raa? That . . . Good G 

But surely you know . . ." 

He did not finish what he was going to say, so I told him 
I did not know anything, not having seen Lord Raa since I 
came to school, and everything having been arranged for me 
by my father. 

' ' Not seen him since . . . everything arranged by your 
father?" 

"Yes." 

Then he asked me abruptly where I was staying, and when 
I told him he said he would walk back with me to the hotel. 

His manner had suddenly changed, and several times as we 
walked together up the Tritoni and along the Du Marcelli he 
began to say something and then stopped. 

"Surely your father knows . . ." 

"If he does, I cannot possibly understand . . ." 

I did not pay as much attention to his broken exclamations 
as I should have done but for the surprise and confusion of 
coming so suddenly upon him again ; and when, as we reached 
the hotel, he said: 

"I wonder if your father will allow me to speak. . . ." 

"I'm sure he'll be delighted," I said, and then, in my great 
impatience, I ran upstairs ahead of him and burst into my 
father 's room, crying : 

"Father, whom do you think I have brought to see you 
look!" 

To my concern and discomfiture my father's reception of 
Martin was very cool, and at first he did not even seem to 
know him. 

"You don't remember me, sir?" said Martin. 

" I 'm afraid I can 't just place you, ' ' said my father. 

After I had made them known to each other they sat talking 
about the South Pole expedition, but it was a chill and cheer- 
less interview, and after a few minutes Martin rose to go. 

"I find it kind of hard to figure you fellows out," said my 
father. "No money that I know of has ever been made in 
the Unknown, as you call it, and if you discover both Poles 
I don't just see how they're to be worth a two-cent stamp to 
you. But you know best, so good-bye and good luck to you!" 

I went out to the lift with Martin, who asked if he could take 
me for a walk in the morning. I answered yes, and inquired 
what hour he would call for me. 



94 THE WOMAN THOU GAVEST ME 

"Twelve o'clock," he replied, and I said that would suit 
me exactly. 

The Bishop came to dine with us that night, and after din- 
ner, when I had gone to the window to look out over the city 
for the three lights on the Loggia of the Vatican, he and my 
father talked together for a long time in a low tone. 

They were still talking when I left them to go to bed. 

TWENTY-THIRD CHAPTER 

AT breakfast next morning my father told me that something 
unexpected had occurred to require that we should return 
home immediately, and therefore he had sent over to Cook's 
for seats by the noon express. 

I was deeply disappointed, but I knew my father too well 
to demur, so I slipped away to my room and sent a letter to 
Martin, explaining the change in our plans and saying good- 
bye to him. 

When we reached the station, however, I found Martin 
waiting on the platform in front of the compartment that 
was labelled with our name. 

I thought my father was even more brusque with him than 
before, and the Bishop, who was to travel with us, was curt 
almost to rudeness. But Martin did not seem to mind that this 
morning, for his lower lip had the stiff setting which I had seen 
in it when he was a boy, and after I stepped into the carriage 
he stepped in after me, leaving the two men on the platform. 

"Shall you be long away?" I asked. 

"Too long unfortunately. Six months, nine perhaps 
twelve, worse luck ! Wish I hadn 't to go at all, ' ' he answered. 

I was surprised and asked why, whereupon he stammered 
some excuse, and then said abruptly: 

"I suppose you'll not be married for some time at all 
events?" 

I told him I did not know, everything depending on my 
father. 

"Anyhow, you'll see and hear for yourself when you reach 
home, and then perhaps you'll . . ." 

I answered that I should have to do what my father desired, 
being a girl, and therefore . . = 

"But surely a girl has some rights of her own," he said, and 
then I was silent and a little ashamed, having a sense of female 



MY GIRLHOOD 95 

helplessness which I had never felt before and could find no 
words for. 

"I'll write to yonr father," he said, and just at that moment 
the bell rang, and my father came into the compartment, 
saying : 

"Now then, young man, if you don't want to be taken up to 
the North Pole instead of going down to the South one . . ." 

"That's all right, sir. Don't you trouble about me. I can 
take care of myself," said Martin. 

Something in his tone must have said more than his words 
to my father and the Bishop, for I saw that they looked at 
each other with surprise. 

Then the bell rang again, the engine throbbed, and Martin 
said, "Good-bye! Good-bye!" 

While the train moved out of the station he stood bareheaded 
on the platform with such a woebegone face that looking back 
at him my throat began to hurt me as it used to do when I 
was a child. 

I was very sad that day as we travelled north. My adopted 
country had become dear to me during my ten years' exile 
from home, and I thought I was seeing the last of my beautiful 
Italy, crowned with sunshine and decked with flowers. 

But there was another cause of my sadness, and that was 
the thought of Martin 's uneasiness about my marriage and the 
feeling that if he had anything to say to my father he ought to 
have said it then. 

And there was yet another cause of which I was quite 
unconscious that like every other girl before love dawns on 
her, half of my nature was still asleep, the half that makes 
life lovely and the world dear. 

To think that Martin Conrad was the one person who could 
have wakened my sleeping heart! That a word, a look, a 
smile from him that day could have changed the whole current 
of my life, and that . . . 

But no, I will not reproach him. Have I not known since 
the day on St. Mary's Rock that above all else he is a born 
gentleman ? 

And yet , , . And yet ... 

MEMORANDUM BY MARTIN CONRAD 

AND yet I was a fool, or in spite of everything I should have 
spoken to Daniel O'Neill before he left Rome. I should have 
said to him : 



96 THE WOMAN THOU GAVEST ME 

"Do you know that the man to whom you are going to 
marry your daughter is a profligate and a reprobate ? If you 
do know this, are you deliberately selling her, body and soul, 
to gratify your lust of rank and power and all the rest of 
your rotten aspirations?" 

That is what I ought to have done, but didn't do. I was 
afraid of being thought to have personal motives of inter- 
fering where I wasn't wanted, of butting in when I had no 
right. 

Yet I felt I had a right, and I had half a mind to throw 
up everything and go back to Elian. But the expedition 
was the big chance I had been looking forward to and I could 
not give it up. 

So I resolved to write. But writing isn't exactly my job, 
and it took me a fortnight to get anything done to my satis- 
faction. By that time we were at Port Said, and from there 
I posted three letters, the first to Daniel O'Neill, the second 
to Bishop Walsh, the third to Father Dan. 

Would they reach in tune? If so, would they be read 
and considered or resented and destroyed ? 

I did not know. I could not guess. And then I was going 
down into the deep Antarctic night, where no sound from 
the living world could reach me. 

What would happen before I could get back? Only God 
could say. M. C. 



SECOND PART 
MY MARRIAGE 

TWENTY-FOURTH CHAPTER 

NOTWITHSTANDING my father's anxiety to leave Rome we 
travelled slowly and it was a week before we reached Elian. 
By that time my depression had disappeared, and I was 
quivering with mingled curiosity and fear at the thought of 
meeting the man who was to be my husband. 

My father, for reasons of his own, was equally excited, 
and as we sailed into the bay at Blackwater he pointed out 
the developments which had been made under his direction 
the hotels, theatres, dancing palaces and boarding houses that 
lined the sea-front, and the electric railways that ran up to the 
tops of the mountains. 

"See that?" he cried. ''I told them I could make this 
old island hum. ' ' 

On a great stone pier that stood deep into the bay, a crowd 
of people were waiting for the arrival of the steamer. 

' ' That 's nothing, ' ' said my father. ' ' Nothing to what you 
see at the height of the season." 

As soon as we had drawn up alongside the pier, and before 
the passengers had landed, four gentlemen came aboard, and 
my heart thumped with the thought that my intended husband 
would be one of them; but he was not, and the first words 
spoken to my father were 

"His lordship's apologies, sir. He has an engagement 
to-day, but hopes to see you at your own house to-morrow 
morning. ' ' 

I recognised the speaker as the guardian (grown greyer and 
even less prepossessing) who had crossed with the young 
Lord Raa when he was going up to Oxford ; and his compan- 
ions were a smooth-faced man with searching eyes who was 
introduced as his lordship's solicitor from London, a Mr. 
Curphy, whom I knew to be my father's advocate, and my 
dear old Father Dan. 

I was surprised to find Father Dan a smaller man than I 
had thought him, very plain and provincial, a little country 

97 G 



98 THE WOMAN THOU GAYEST ME 

parish priest, but he had the tender smile I always remem- 
bered, and the sweet Irish roll of the vowels that I could never 
forget. 

' ' God bless you, ' ' he said. ' ' How well you 're looking ! And 
how like your mother, Lord rest her soul ! I knew the Blessed 
Virgin would take care of you, and she has, she has." 

Three conveyances were waiting for us a grand brougham 
for the Bishop, a big motor car for the guardian and the 
London lawyer, and a still bigger one for ourselves. 

"Well, s'long until to-morrow then," cried my father, 
getting up into the front row of his own car, with the advocate 
beside him and Father Dan and myself behind. 

On the way home Father Dan talked of the business that 
had brought me back, saying I was not to think too much of 
anything he might have said of Lord Raa in his letters, seeing 
that he had spoken from hearsay, and the world was so cen- 
sorious and then there was no measuring the miraculous 
Influence that might be exercised by a good woman. 

He said this with a certain constraint, and was more at 
ease when he spoke of the joy that ought to come into a girl's 
life at her marriage her first love, her first love-letter, her 
wedding-day and her first baby, all the sweet and wonderful 
things of a new existence which a man could never know. 

"Even an old priest may see that," he said, with a laugh 
and a pat of my hand. 

We dropped Mr. Curphy at his house in Holmtown, and 
then my father sat with us at the back, and talked with tremen- 
dous energy of what he had done, of what he was going to do, 
and of all the splendours that were before me. 

"You'll be the big woman of the island, gel, and there 
won't be a mother's son that dare say boo to you." 

I noticed that, in his excitement, his tongue, dropping the 
suggestion of his adopted country, reverted to the racy speech 
of his native soil ; and I had a sense of being with him before 
I was born, when he returned home from America with 
millions of dollars at his back, and the people who had made 
game of his father went down before his face like a flood. 

Such of them as had not done so then (being of the "aristo- 
cracy" of the island and remembering the humble stock he 
came from) were to do so now, for in the second generation, 
and by means of his daughter's marriage, he was going to 
triumph over them all. 

"We'll beat 'em, gel! My gough, yes, we'll beat 'em!" 



MY MARRIAGE 99 

lie cried, with a flash of his black eyes and a masterful lift 
of his eyebrows. 

As we ran by the mansions of the great people of Elian, he 
pointed them out to me with a fling of the arm and spoke of 
the families in a tone of contempt. 

11 See that? That's Christian of Balla-Christian. The man 
snubbed me six months ago. He'll know better six months 
to come. . . . That's Eyreton. His missus was too big 
to call on your mother she'll call on you, though, you go 
bail. See yonder big tower in the trees? That's Folksdale, 
where the Farragans live. The daughters have been walking 
over the world like peacocks, but they '11 crawl on it like cock- 
roaches. . . . Hulloh, here's ould Balgean of Eagle Hill, 
in his grand carriage with his English coachman. . . . 
See that, though? See him doff his hat to you, the ould 
hypocrite? He knows something. He's got an inkling. 
Things travel. We '11 beat 'em, gel, we '11 beat 'em ! They '11 be 
round us like bees about a honeypot." 

It was impossible not to catch the contagion of my father's 
triumphant spirits, and in my different way I found myself 
tingling with delight as I recognised the scenes associated 
with my childhood the village, the bridge, the lane to Sunny 
Lodge and Murphy's Mouth, and the trees that bordered our 
drive. 

Nearly everything looked smaller or narrower or lower 
than I had thought, but I had forgotten how lovely they all 
were, lying so snugly under the hill and with the sea in 
front of them. 

Our house alone when we drove up to it seemed larger than 
I had expected, but my father explained this by saying: 

(l Improvements, gel! I'll show you over them to-morrow 
morning. ' ' 

Aunt Bridget (white-headed now and wearing spectacles 
and a white cap), Betsy Beauty (grown tall and round, with 
a kind of country comeliness) and Nessy MacLeod (looking 
like a premature old maid who was doing her best to be a 
girl) were waiting at the open porch when our car drew up, 
and they received me with surprising cordiality. 

' ' Here she is at last ! ' ' said Aunt Bridget. 

"And such luck as she has come home to!" said Betsy 
Beauty. 

There were compliments on the improvement in my appear- 
ance (Aunt Bridget declaring she could not have believed 



100 THE WOMAN THOU GAVEST ME 

it, she really could not), and then Nessy undertook to take 
me to my room. 

"It's the same room still, Mary," said my Aunt, calling 
to me as I went upstairs. "When they were changing every- 
thing else I remembered your poor dear mother and wouldn 't 
hear of their changing that. It isn 't a bit altered. ' ' 

It was not. Everything was exactly as I remembered it. 
But just as I was beginning for the first time in my life 
to feel grateful to Aunt Bridget, Nessy said: 

"No thanks to her, though. If she'd had her way, she 
would have wiped out every trace of your mother, and 
arranged this marriage for her own daughter instead." 

More of the same kind she said which left me with the 
impression that my father was now the god of her idolatry, 
and that my return was not too welcome to my aunt and 
cousin; but as soon as she was gone, and I was left alone, 
home began to speak to me in soft and entrancing whispers. 

How my pulses beat, how my nerves tingled! Home! 
Home ! Home ! 

From that dear spot everything seemed to be the same, 
and everything had something to say to me. What sweet and 
tender and touching memories! 

Here was the big black four-post bed, with the rosary 
hanging at its head; and here was the praying-stool with 
the figure of Our Lady on the wall above it. 

I threw up the window, and there was the salt breath of 
the sea in the crisp island air; there was the sea itself glisten- 
ing in the afternoon sunshine; there was St. Mary's Rock 
draped in its garment of sea-weed, and there were the clouds 
of white sea-gulls whirling about it. 

Taking off my hat and coat I stepped downstairs and out 
of the house going first into the farm-yard where the spring- 
less carts were still clattering over the cobble-stones; then 
into the cow-house, where the milkmaids were still sitting on 
low stools with their heads against the sides of the slow-eyed 
Brownies, and the milk rattling in their noisy pails; then 
into the farm-kitchen, where the air was full of the odour of 
burning turf and the still sweeter smell of cakes baking on a 
griddle ; and finally into the potting-shed in the garden, where 
Tommy the Mate (more than ever like a weather-beaten old 
salt) was still working as before. 

The old man looked round with his "starboard eye," and 
recognised me instantly. 



MY MARRIAGE 101 

"God bless my sowl," he cried, "if it isn't the IT missy! 
Well, well! Well, well! And she's a woman grown! A 
real lady too! My gracious, yes," he said, after a second and 
longer look, "and there hasn't been the match of her on this 
island since they laid her mother under the sod ! ' ' 

I wanted to ask him a hundred questions, but Aunt Bridget, 
who had been watching from a window, called from the house 
to say she was "mashing" a cup of tea for me, so I returned 
to the drawing-room where (my father being busy with his 
letters in the library) Betsy Beauty talked for half an hour 
about Lord Raa, his good looks, distinguished manners and 
general accomplishments. 

' ' But aren 't you just dying to see him ? " she said. 

I saw him the following morning. 

TWENTY-FIFTH CHAPTER 

I WAS sitting in my own room, writing to the Reverend 
Mother, to tell her of my return home, when I heard the toot 
of a horn and raising my eyes saw a motor car coming up 
the drive. It contained three gentlemen, one of them wore 
goggles and carried a silver-haired terrier on his knees. 

A little later Nessy MacLeod came to tell me that Lord Raa 
and his party had arrived and I was wanted immediately. 

I went downstairs hesitatingly, with a haunting sense of 
coming trouble. Reaching the door of the drawing-room I 
saw my intended husband for the first time there being 
nothing in his appearance to awaken in me the memory of 
ever having seen him before. 

He was on the hearthrug in front of the fire, talking to 
Betsy Beauty, who was laughing immoderately. To get a 
better look at him, and at the same time to compose myself, 
I stopped for a moment to speak to the three gentlemen 
(the two lawyers and Lord Raa's trustee or guardian) who 
were standing with my father in the middle of the floor. 

He was undoubtedly well-dressed and had a certain air of 
breeding, but even to my girlish eyes he betrayed at that 
first sight the character of a man who had lived an irregular, 
perhaps a dissipated life. 

His face was pale, almost puffy, his grey eyes were slow 
and heavy, his moustache was dark and small, his hair was 
thin over his forehead, and he had a general appearance 
of being much older than his years, which I knew to be 
thirty-three. 



102 THE WOMAN THOU GAVEST ME 

His manners, when I approached him, were courteous and 
gentle, almost playful and indulgent, but through all their 
softness there pierced a certain hardness, not to say brutality, 
which I afterwards learned (when life had had its tug at me) 
to associate with a man who has spent much of his time 
among women of loose character. 

Betsy Beauty made a great matter of introducing us; but 
in a drawling voice, and with a certain play of humour, 
he told her it was quite unnecessary, since we were very old 
friends, having made each other's acquaintance as far back as 
ten years ago, when I was the prettiest little woman in the 
world, he remembered, though perhaps my manners were 
not quite cordial. 

"We had a slight difference on the subject of kisses. Don't 
you remember it?" 

Happily there was no necessity to reply, for my father 
came to say that he wished to show his lordship the improve- 
ments he had been making, and the rest of us were at liberty 
to follow them. 

The improvements consisted chiefly of a new wing to the 
old house, containing a dining room, still unfurnished, which 
had been modelled, as I found later, on the corresponding 
room in Castle Raa. 

With a proud lift of his white head my father pointed out 
the beauties of his new possession, while my intended husband, 
with his monocle to his eye, looked on with a certain conde- 
scension, and answered with a languid humour that narrowly 
bordered on contempt. 

"Oak, sir, solid oak," said my father, rapping with his 
knuckles on the tall, dark, heavy wainscoting. 

' ' As old as our hearts and as hard as our heads, I suppose, ' ' 
said Lord Raa. 

"Harder than some, sir," said my father. 

' ' Exactly, ' ' said Lord Raa in his slow drawl, and then there 
was general laughter. 

The bell rang for luncheon, and we went into the plain old 
dining room, where Aunt Bridget placed her principal guest 
on her right and told him all about her late husband, the 
Colonel, his honours and military achievements. 

I could see that Lord Raa was soon very weary of this, and 
more than once, sitting by his side, I caught the cynical and 
rather supercilious responses to which, under the gloss of his 
gracious manners, Aunt Bridget seemed quite oblivious. 



MY MARRIAGE 103 

I was so nervous and embarrassed that I spoke very little 
during luncheon, and even Aunt Bridget observed this at last. 

"Mary, dear, why don't you speak?" she said. 

But without waiting for my reply she proceeded to explain 
to his lordship that the strangest change had come over me 
since I was a child, when I had been the sauciest little chatter- 
box in the world, whereas now I was so shy that it was nearly 
impossible to get a word out of me. 

"Hope I shall be able to get one word out of her, at least," 
said his lordship, whereupon Aunt Bridget smiled significantly 
and Betsy Beauty burst into fits of laughter. 

Almost before the meal was over, my father rose from his 
seat at the head of the table, and indicating the lawyers who 
sat near to him, he said: 

"These gentlemen and I have business to fix up money 
matters and all that so I guess we'll step into the library 
and leave you young people to look after yourselves." 

Everybody rose to leave the room. 

"All back for tea-time," said Aunt Bridget. 

"Of course you don't want me," said Betsy Beauty with a 
giggle, and at the next moment I was alone with his lordship, 
who drew a long breath that was almost like a yawn, and 
said: 

"Is there no quiet place we can slip away to?" 

There was the glen at the back of the house (the Cape 
Flora of Martin Conrad), so I took him into that, not without 
an increasing sense of embarrassment. It was a clear Oc- 
tober day, the glen was dry, and the air under the shadow 
of the thinning trees was full of the soft light of the late 
autumn. 

"Ah, this is better," said his lordship. 

He lit a cigar and walked for some time by my side without 
speaking, merely flicking the seeding heads off the dying 
thistles with his walking stick, and then ruckling it through 
the withered leaves with which the path was strewn. 

But half way up the glen he began to look aslant at me 
through his monocle, and then to talk about my life in Rome, 
wondering how I could have been content to stay so long at 
the Convent, and hinting at a rumour which had reached 
him that I had actually wished to stay there altogether. 

"Extraordinary! Ton my word, extraordinary! It's 
well enough for women who have suffered shipwreck in their 



104 THE WOMAN THOU GAYEST ME 

lives to live in such places, but for a young gal with any 
fortune, any looks . . . why I wonder she doesn't die of 
ennui." 

I was still too nervous and embarrassed to make much 
protest, so he went on to tell me with what difficulty he 
supported the boredom of his own life even in London, with 
its clubs, its race-meetings, its dances, its theatres and music 
halls, and the amusement to be got out of some of the ladies 
of society, not to speak of certain well-known professional 
beauties. 

One of his great friends his name was Eastcliff was going 
to marry the most famous of the latter class (a foreign dancer 
at the ''Empire"), and since he was rich and could afford 
to please himself, why shouldn't he? 

When we reached the waterfall at the top of the glen (it 
had been the North Cape of Martin Conrad), we sat on a 
rustic seat which stands there, and then, to my still deeper 
embarrassment, his lordship's conversation came to close 
quarters. 

Throwing away his cigar and taking his silver-haired terrier 
on his lap he said : 

"Of course you know what the business is which the 
gentlemen are discussing in the library?" 

As well as I could for the nervousness that was stifling 
me, I answered that I knew. 

He stroked the dog with one hand, prodded his stick into 
the gravel with the other, and said: 

"Well, I don't know what your views about marriage are. 
Mine, I may say, are liberal." 

I listened without attempting to reply. 

"I think nine-tenths of the trouble that attends married 
life the breakdowns and what not come of an irrational 
effort to tighten the marriage knot." 

Still I said nothing. 

"To imagine that two independent human beings can be 
tied together like a couple of Siamese twins, neither to move 
without the other, living precisely the same life, year in, year 
out , . . why, it's silly, positively silly." 

In my ignorance I could find nothing to say, and after 
another moment my intended husband swished the loosened 
gravel with his stick and said : 

"I believe in married people leaving each other free each 
going his and her own way what do you think ? ' ' 



MY MARRIAGE 105 

I must have stammered some kind of answer I don't 
know what for I remember that he said next: 

"Quite so, that's my view of matrimony, and I'm glad to 
see you appear to share it. ... Tell the truth, I was 
afraid you wouldn't," he added, with something more about 
the nuns and the convent. 

I wanted to say that I didn't, but my nervousness was 
increasing every moment, and before I could find words in 
which to protest he was speaking to me again. 

"Our friends in the library seem to think that you and I 
could get along together, and I'm disposed to think they're 
right aren't you?" 

In my ignorance and helplessness, and with the conscious- 
ness of what I was expected to do, I merely looked at him 
without speaking. 

Then he fixed his monocle afresh, and, looking back at me 
in a curious way, he said: 

"I don't think I should bore you, my dear. In fact, I 
should be rather proud of having a good-looking woman for 
my wife, and I fancy I could give you a good time. In any 
case" this with a certain condescension "my name might 
be of some use to you." 

A sort of shame was creeping over me. The dog was 
yawning in my face. My intended husband threw it off 
his knee. 

' ' Shall we consider it a settled thing, then ? " he asked, and 
when in my confusion I still made no reply (having nothing 
which I felt myself entitled to say), he said something about 
Aunt Bridget and what she had told him at luncheon about 
my silence and shyness, and then rising to his feet he put 
my arm through his own, and turned our faces towards 
home. 

That was all. As I am a truthful woman, that was every- 
thing. Not a word from me, nay, not half a word, merely a 
passive act of silent acquiescence, and in my youthful and 
almost criminal innocence I was committed to the most 
momentous incident of my life. 

But if there was no love-making, no fondling, no kissing, 
no courtship of any kind, and none of the delirious rapture 
which used to be described in Alma's novels, I was really 
grateful for that, and immensely relieved to find that matters 
could be completed without them. 

When we reached the house, the bell was ringing for tea. 



106 THE WOMAN THOU GAYEST ME 

and my father was coming out of the library, followed by the 
lawyers. 

"So that's all right, gentlemen?" he was saying. 

"Yes, that's all right, sir," they were answering; and 
then, seeing us as we entered, my father said to Lord Raa: 

"And what about you two?" 

"We're all right also," said his lordship in his drawling 
voice. 

"Good!" said my father, and he slapped his lordship 
sharply on the back, to his surprise, and I think, discomfiture. 

Then with a cackle of light laughter among the men, we 
all trooped into the drawing room. 

Aunt Bridget in her gold-rimmed spectacles and new white 
cap, poured out the tea from our best silver tea-pot, while 
Nessy MacLeod with a geranium in her red hair, and Betsy 
Beauty, with large red roses in her bosom, handed round 
the cups. After a moment, my father, with a radiant face, 
standing back to the fire, said in a loud voice : 

' ' Friends all, I have something to tell you. ' ' 

Everybody except myself looked up and listened, though 
everybody knew what was coming. 

' ' We Ve had a stiff tussle in the library this afternoon, but 
everything is settled satisfactory and the marriage is as 
good as made." 

There was a chorus of congratulations for me, and a few 
for his lordship, and then my father said again : 

' ' Of course there '11 be deeds to draw up, and I want things 
done correct, even if it costs me a bit of money. But we've 
only one thing more to fix up to-day, and then we 're through 
the wedding. When is it to come off?" 

An appeal was made to me, but I felt it was only formal, 
so I glanced across to Lord Raa without speaking. 

"Come now," said my father, looking from one to the 
other. "The clean cut is the short cut, you know, and when 
I'm sot on doing a thing, I can't take rest till it's done. What 
do you say to this day next month?" 

I bowed and my intended husband, in his languid way, 
said: 

"Agreed!" 

A few minutes afterwards the motor was ordered round, 
and the gentlemen prepared to go. Then the silver-haired 
terrier was missed, and for the first time that day his lordship 
betrayed a vivid interest, telling us its price and pedigree 



MY MARRIAGE 107 

and how much he would give rather than lose it. But at the 
last moment Tommy appeared with the dog in his arms and 
dropped it into the car, whereupon my intended husband 
thanked him effusively. 

"Yes," said Tommy, "I thought you set store by that, sir." 

At the next moment the car was gone. 

"Well, you are a lucky girl," said Betsy Beauty; and 
Aunt Bridget began to take credit to herself for all that 
had come to pass, and to indicate the methods by which she 
meant to manage Castle Raa as soon as ever I became mistress 
of it. 

Thus in my youth, my helplessness, my ignorance, and 
my inexperience I became engaged to the man who had been 
found and courted for me. If I acquiesced, I had certainly 
not been consulted. My father had not consulted me. My 
intended husband had not consulted me. Nobody con- 
sulted me. I am not even sure that I thought anybody 
was under any obligation to consult me. Love had not 
spoken to me, sex was still asleep in me, and my marriage 
was arranged before my deeper nature knew what was being 
done. 

TWENTY-SIXTH CHAPTER 

THE next weeks were full of hurry, hubbub and perturbation. 
Our house was turned upside down. Milliners, sewing-maids 
and dressmakers were working day and night. Flowers, 
feathers and silk remnants were flowing like sea-wrack into 
every room. Orders were given, orders were retracted and 
given again, and then again retracted. 

Such flying up and down stairs ! Everybody so breathless ! 
Everybody so happy! Every face wearing a smile! Every 
tongue rippling with laughter! The big grey mansion which 
used to seem so chill and cold felt for the first time like a 
house of joy. >, 

In the midst of these busy preparations I had no time to 
think. My senses were excited. I was dazed, stunned, 
wrapped round by a kind of warm air of hot-house happiness, 
and this condition of moral intoxication increased as the 
passing of the days brought fresh developments. 

Our neighbours began to visit us. My father had been 
right about the great people of the island. Though they had 
stood off so long, they found their account in my good fortune, 



108 THE WOMAN THOU GAYEST ME 

and as soon as my marriage was announced they caine in 
troops to offer their congratulations 

Never, according to Tommy the Mate, had the gravel of our 
carriage drive been so rucked up by the pawing feet of high- 
bred horses. But their owners were no less restless. It was 
almost pitiful to see their shame facedness as they entered our 
house for the first time, and to watch the shifts they *were put 
to in order to account for the fact that they had never been 
there before. 

Aunt Bridget's vanity was too much uplifted by their 
presence to be particular about their excuses, but my father's 
contempt of their subterfuges was naked and undisguised, and 
1 hardly know whether to feel amused or ashamed when I 
think of how he scored off them, how he lashed them to the 
bone, with what irony and sarcasm he scorched their time- 
serving little souls. 

When they were very great folks, the "aristocracy" of 
Elian, he pretended not to know who they were, and asked 
their names, their father's names, and what parishes they 
came from. 

"Some of the Christians of Balla-Christian, are you? Think 
of that now ! And me a born Ellanman, and not knowing you 
from Adam!" 

When they were very near neighbours, with lands that made 
boundary with our own, ,he pretended to think they had been 
twenty years abroad, or perhaps sick, or even dead and buried, 

"Too bad, ma'am, too bad," he would say. "And me 
thinking you were under the sod through all the lonely years 
my poor wife was ill and dying." 

But when they were insular officials, who "walked on the 
stars," and sometimes snubbed him in public, the rapier of 
ridicule was too light for his heavy hand, and he took up the 
sledge-hammer, telling them he was the same man to-day as 
yesterday, and only his circumstances were different his 
daughter being about to become the lady of the first house in 
the island, and none of them being big enough to be left out 
of it. 

After such scenes Aunt Bridget, for all her despotism 
within her own doors, used to tremble with dread of our neigh- 
bours taking lasting offence, but my father would say : 

' ' Chut, woman, they 11 come again, and make no more faces 
about it." 

They did, and if they were shy of my father they were 



MY MARRIAGE 109 

gracious enough to me, saying it was such a good thing for 
society in the island that Castle Raa was to have a lady, a real 
lady, at the head of it at last. 

Then came their wedding presents pictures, books, silver 
ornaments, gold ornaments, clocks, watches, chains, jewellery, 
until my bedroom was blocked up with them. As each fresh 
parcel arrived there would be a rush of all the female members 
of our household to open it, after which Betsy Beauty would 
say: 

"What a lucky girl you are!" 

I began to think I was. I found it impossible to remain 
unaffected by the whirlwind of joyous turmoil in which I 
lived. The refulgence of the present hour wiped out the past, 
which seemed to fade away altogether. After the first few 
days I was flying about from place to place, and wherever I 
went I was a subject for congratulation and envy. 

If there were moments of misgiving, when, like the cold 
wind out of a tunnel, there came the memory of the Reverend 
Mother and the story she had told me at Nemi, there were 
other moments when I felt quite sure that, in marrying Lord 
Raa, I should be doing a self-sacrificing thing and a kind of 
solemn duty. 

One such moment was when Mr. Curphy, my father's 
advocate, who with his clammy hands always made me think 
of an over-fatted fish, came to tell him that, after serious legal 
difficulties, the civil documents had been agreed to, for, after 
he had finished with my father, he drew me aside and said, 
as he smoothed his long brown beard: 

"You ought to be a happy girl, Mary. I suppose you know 
what you are doing for your father? You are wiping out the 
greatest disappointment of his life, and rectifying the cruelty 
the inevitable cruelty of the law, when you were born a 
daughter after he had expected a son." 

Another such moment was when the Bishop came, in his 
grand carriage, to say that after much discussion he had 
persuaded his lordship to sign the necessary declaration that 
all the children of our union, irrespective of sex, should be 
brought up as Catholics, for taking me aside, as the advocate 
had done the day before, he said, in his suave voice, fingering 
his jewelled cross: 

"T congratulate yon, my child. Yours is a great and 
precious privilege the privilege of bringing back to the 



110 THE WOMAN THOU GAVEST ME 

Church a family which has been estranged from it for nine- 
teen years. ' ' 

At the end of a fortnight we signed the marriage settlement. 
The little ceremony took place in the drawing-room of my 
father's house. My intended husband, who had not been to 
see me in the meantime, brought with him (as well as his 
trustee and lawyer) a lady and a gentleman. 

The lady was his maiden aunt, Lady Margaret Anslem, a 
fair woman of about forty, fashionably dressed, redolent of 
perfume, and (except to me, to whom she talked quite amica- 
bly) rather reserved and haughty, as if the marriage of her 
nephew into our family were a bitter pill which she had 
compelled herself to swallow. 

The gentleman was a tall young man wearing a very high 
collar and cravat, and using a handkerchief with embroidered 
initials in the corner of it. He turned out to be the Hon. 
Edward Eastcliff the great friend who, being rich enough to 
please himself, was about to marry the professional beauty. 

I noticed that Aunt Bridget, with something of the instinct 
of the fly about the flame, immediately fixed herself upon 
the one, and that Betsy Beauty attached herself to the other. 

Lord Raa himself looked as tired as before, and for the first 
half-hour he behaved as if he did not quite know what to do 
with himself for wretchedness and ennui. 

Then the deeds were opened and spread out on a table, and 
though the gentlemen seemed to be trying not to discuss the 
contents aloud I could not help hearing some of the arrange- 
ments that had been made for the payment of my intended 
husband's debts, and certain details of his annual allowance. 

Looking back upon that ugly hour, I wonder why, under the 
circumstances, I should have been so wounded, but I remember 
that a sense of discomfort amounting to shame came upon me 
at sight of the sorry bargaining. It seemed to have so little 
to do with the spiritual union of souls, which I had been taught 
to think marriage should be. But I had no time to think more 
about that before my father, who had signed the documents 
himself in his large, heavy hand, was saying . 

"Now, gel, come along, we're waiting for your signature." 

I cannot remember that I read anything. I cannot remem- 
ber that anything was read to me. I was told where to sign, 
and I signed, thinking what must be must be, and that was all 
I had to do with the matter. 

I was feeling a little sick, nevertheless, and standing by the 



MY MARRIAGE 111 

fire with one foot on the fender, when Lord Raa came up to 
me at the end, and said in his drawling voice : 

"So it's done." 

"Yes, it's done," I answered 

After a moment he talked of where we were to live, saying 
we must of course pass most of our time in London. 

"But have you any choice about the honeymoon," he said, 
"where we should spend it, I mean?" 

I answered that he would know best, but when he insisted 
on my choosing, saying it was my right to do so, I remembered 
that during my time in the Convent the one country in the 
world I had most desired to see was the Holy Land. 

Never as long as I live shall I forget the look in his lord- 
ship 's grey eyes when I gave this as my selection. 

"You mean Jerusalem Nazareth the Dead Sea and all 
that?" he asked. 

I felt my face growing red as at a frightful faux pas, but 
his lordship only laughed, called me his ' ' little nun, ' ' and said 
that since I had been willing to leave the choice to him he 
would suggest Egypt and Italy, and Berlin and Paris on the 
way back, with the condition that we left Elian for London 
on the day of our marriage. 

After the party from Castle Raa had gone, leaving some of 
their family lace and pearls behind for the bride to wear at 
her wedding, and after Aunt Bridget had hoped that "that 
woman" (meaning Lady Margaret) didn't intend to live at 
the Castle after my marriage, because such a thing would not 
fit in with her plans "at all, at all," I mentioned the arrange- 
ments for the honeymoon, whereupon Betsy Beauty, to whom 
Italy was paradise, and London glimmered in an atmosphere 
of vermillion and gold, cried out as usual : 

' ' What a lucky, lucky girl you are ! ' ' 

But the excitement which had hitherto buoyed me up 
was partly dispelled by this time, and I was beginning to feel 
some doubt of it. 

TWENTY-SEVENTH CHAPTER 

As my wedding-day approached and time ran short, the air of 
joy which had pervaded our house was driven out by an 
atmosphere of irritation. We were all living on our nerves. 
The smiles that used to be at everybody 's service gave place to 
frowns, and, in Aunt Bridget's case, to angry words which 
were distributed on all sides and on all occasions. 



112 THE WOMAN THOU GAYEST ME 

As a consequence I took refuge in my room, and sat long 
hours there in my dressing-gown and slippers, hearing the 
hubbub that was going on in the rest of the house, but taking 
as little part in it as possible. In this semi-conventual silence 
and solitude, the excitement which had swept me along for 
three weeks subsided rapidly. 

I began to think, and above all to feel, and the one thing I 
felt beyond everything else was a sense of something wanting. 

I remembered the beautiful words of the Pope about mar- 
riage as a mystic relation, a sacred union of souls, a bond of 
love such as Christ's love for His Church, and I asked myself 
if I felt any such love for the man who was to become my 
husband. 

I knew I did not. I reminded myself that I had had nearly 
no conversation with him, that our intercourse had been of 
the briefest, that I had seen him only three times altogether, 
and that I scarcely knew him at all. 

And yet I was going to marry him ! In a few days more I 
should be his wife, and we should be bound together as long as 
life should last! 

Then I remembered what Father Dan had said about a 
girl's first love, her first love-letter, and all the sweet, good 
things that should come to her at the time of her marriage. 

None of them had come to me. I do not think my thoughts 
of love were ever disturbed by any expectation of the delights 
of the heart languors of tenderness, long embraces, sighs and 
kisses, and the joys and fevers of the flesh for I knew nothing 
about them. But, nevertheless, I asked myself if I had 
mistaken the matter altogether. Was love really necessary? 
In all their busy preparations neither my father, nor my 
husband, nor the lawyers, nor the Bishop himself, had said 
anything about that. 

I began to sleep badly and to dream. It was always the 
same dream. I was in a frozen region of the far north or 
south, living in a ship which was stuck fast in the ice, and had 
a great frowning barrier before it that was full of dangerous 
crevasses. Then for some reason I wanted to write a letter, 
but was unable to do so, because somebody had trodden on 
my pen and broken it. 

It seems strange to me now as I look back upon that time, 
that I did not know what angel was troubling the waters of my 
soul that Nature was whispering to me, as it whispers to 
every girl at the first great crisis of her life. But neither did I 



MY MARRIAGE 113 

know what angel was leading my footsteps when, three morn- 
ings before my wedding-day, I got up early and went out to 
walk in the crisp salt air. 

Almost without thinking I turned down the lane that led to 
the shore, and before I was conscious of where I was going, I 
found myself near Sunny Lodge. The chimney was smoking 
for breakfast, and there was a smell of burning turf coming 
from the house, which was so pretty and unchanged, with the 
last of the year's roses creeping over the porch and round the 
windows of the room in which I had slept when a child. 

Somebody was digging in the garden. It was the doctor in 
his shirt sleeves. 

"Good morning, doctor," I called, speaking over the fence. 

He rested on his spade and looked up, but did not speak for 
a moment. 

' ' Don 't you know who I am ? " I asked. 

' ' Why yes, of course ; you must be . . . " 

Without finishing he turned his head towards the porch 
and cried : 

"Mother! Mother! Come and see who's here at last!" 

Martin's mother came out of the porch, a little smaller, I 
thought, but with the same dear womanly face over her light 
print frock, which was as sweet as may-blossom. 

She held up both hands at sight of me and cried : 

"There, now! What did I tell you, doctor! Didn't I say 
they might marry her to fifty lords, but she wouldn't forget 
her old friends?" 

I laughed, the doctor laughed, and then she laughed, and 
the sweetest part of it was that she did not know what we were 
laughing at. 

Then I opened the gate and stepped up and held out my 
hand, and involuntarily she wiped her own hand (which was 
covered with meal from the porridge she was making) before 
taking mine. 

"Goodness me, it's Mary O'Neill." 

"Yes, it's I." 

"But let me have a right look at you," she said, taking me 
now by both hands. "They were saying such wonderful 
things about the young misthress that I wasn't willing to 
believe them. But, no, no," she said, after a moment, "they 
didn't tell me the half." 

I was still laughing, but it was as much as I could do not 
to cry, so I said : 

H 



114 THE WOMAN THOU GAVEST ME 

"May I come in?" 

"My goodness yes, and welcome," she said, and calling to 
the doctor to wash his hands and follow us, she led the way 
into the kitchen-parlour, where the kettle was singing from the 
"slowery" and a porridge-pot was bubbling over the fire. 

' ' Sit down. Take the elbow-chair in the chiollagh [the hearth 
place]. There! That's nice. Aw, yes, you know the house." 

Being by this time unable to speak for a lump in my throat 
that was hurting me, I looked round the room, so sweet, so ( 
homely, so closely linked with tender memories of my child- 
hood, while Martin's mother (herself a little nervous and with 
a touching softness in her face) went on talking while she 
stirred the porridge with a porridge-stick. 

"Well, well! To think of all the years since you came 
singing carols to my door! You remember it, don't you? 
. . . Of course you do. ' Doctor, ' T said, ' don 't talk foolish. 
She'll not forget. / know Mary O'Neill. She may be going 
to be a great lady, but haven 't I nursed her on my knee ? ' ' 

' ' Then you Ve heard what 's to happen ? " I asked. 

"Aw yes, woman, yes," she answered in a sadder tone, I 
thought. "Everybody's bound to hear it what with the 
bands practising for the procession, and the bullocks roasting 
for the poor, and the fireworks and the illuminations, and I 
don't know what." 

She was silent for a moment after that, and then in her 
simple way she said : 

'But it's all as one if you love the man, even if he is a lord. " 

'You think that's necessary, don't you?" 

'What, mUlishf" 

'Love. You think it's necessary to love one's husband?" 

'Goodness sakes, girl, yes. If you don't have love, what 
have you? What's to keep the pot boiling when the fire's 
getting low and the winter 's coming on, maybe ? The doctor 's 
telling me some of the fine ladies in London are marrying 
without it just for money and titles and all to that. But I 
can't believe it, I really can't! They've got their troubles 
same as ourselves, poor things, and what's the use of their fine 
clothes and grand carriages when the dark days come and the 
night's falling on them?" 

It was harder than ever to speak now, so I got up to look at 
some silver cups that stood on the mantelpiece. 

"Martin's," said his mother, to whom they were precious 
as rubies. "He won them at swimming and running and 



MY MARRIAGE 115 

leaping and climbing and all to that. Aw, yes, yes ! He was 
always grand at games, if he couldn't learn his lessons, poor 
boy. And now he's gone away from us looking for South 
Poles somewheres. " 

"I know I saw him in Rome," said I. 

She dropped her porridge-stick and looked at me with big 
eyes. 

"Saw him? In Rome, you say? After he sailed, you 
mean?" 

I nodded, and then she cried excitedly to the doctor who 
was just then coming into the house, after washing his hands 
under the pump. 

' ' Father, she saw himself in Rome after he sailed. ' ' 

There was only one himself in that house, therefore it was 
not difficult for the doctor to know who was meant. And so 
great was the eagerness of the old people to hear the last news 
of the son who was the apple of their eye that I had to stay 
to breakfast and tell them all about our meeting. 

While Martin's mother laid the table with oat-cake and 
honey and bowls of milk and deep plates for the porridge, I 
told the little there was to tell, and then listened to their 
simple comments. 

"There now, doctor! Think of that! Those two meeting 
in foreign parts that used to be such friends when they were 
children ! Like brother and sister, you might say. And whiles 
and whiles we were thinking that some day . . . but well 
say no more about that now, doctor. ' ' 

"No, well say no more about that now, Christian Ann," 
said the doctor. 

Then there was a moment of silence, and it was just as if 
they had been rummaging among half-forgotten things in a 
dark corner of their house, and had come upon a cradle, and 
the child that had lived in it was dead. 

It was sweet, but it was also painful to stay long in that 
house of love, and as soon as I had eaten my oat-cake and 
honey I got up to go. The two good souls saw me to the door, 
saying I was not to expect either of them at the Big House on 
my wedding-day, because she was no woman for smart clothes, 
and the doctor, who was growing rheumatic, had given up 
his night-calls, and therefore his gig, so as to keep down 
expenses. 

"Well be at the church, though," said Martin's mother. 



116 THE WOMAN THOU GAVEST ME 

''And if we don't see you to speak to, you'll know we're there 
and wishing you happiness in our hearts." 

I could not utter a word when I left them ; but after I had 
walked a little way I looked back, intending to wave my fare- 
well, and there they were together at the gate still, and one 
of her hands was on the doctor's shoulder the sweet woman 
who had chosen love against the world, and did not regret it, 
even now when the night was falling on her. 

I had to pass the Presbytery on my way home, and as I 
did so, I saw Father Dan in his study. He threw up the win- 
dow sash and called in a soft voice, asking me to wait until he 
came down to me. 

He came down hurriedly, just as he was, in his worn and 
discoloured cassock and biretta, and walked up the road by 
my side, breathing rapidly and obviously much agitated. 

"The Bishop is staying with me over the wedding, and he 
is in such a fury that . . . Don't worry. It will be all 
right. But . . ." 

"Yes?" 

"Did you see young Martin Conrad while you were in 
Rome?" 

I answered that I did. 

"And did anything pass between you . . . about your 
marriage, I mean?" 

I told him all that I had said to Martin, and all that Martin 
had said to me. 

"Because he has written a long letter to the Bishop de- 
nouncing it, and calling on him to stop it." 

"To stop it?" 

' ' That 's so. He says it is nothing but trade and barter, and 
if the Church is willing to give its blessing to such rank 
commercialism, let it bless the Stock Exchange, let it sanctify 
the slave market." 

"Well?" 

"The Bishop threatens to tell your father. 'Who is this 

young man, ' he says, ' who dares to . , . ' But if I thought 

there was nothing more to your marriage than ... If 1 

imagined that what occurred in the case of your dear mother 

. But that's not all." 

"Not all?" 

"No. Martin has written to me too, saying worse far 
worse. ' ' 

"What does he say, Father Dan?" 



MY MARRIAGE 117 

"I don't really know if I ought to tell you, I really don't. 
Yet if it 's true ... if there 's anything in it . . . " 

I was trembling, but I begged him to tell me what Martin 
had said. He told me. It was about my intended husband 
that he was a man of irregular life, a notorious loose liver, who 
kept up a connection with somebody in London, a kind of 
actress who was practically his wife already, and therefore his 
marriage with me would be so Martin had said nothing but 
"legalised and sanctified concubinage." 

With many breaks and pauses my dear old priest told me 
this story, as if it were something so infamous that his simple 
and innocent heart could scarcely credit it. 

"If I really thought it was true," he said, "that a man 
living such a life could come here to marry my little . . . 
But no, God could not suffer a thing like that. I must ask, 
though. I must make sure. We live so far away in this little 
island that . . . But I must go back now. The Bishop 
will be calling for me." 

Still deeply agitated, Father Dan left me by the bridge, and 
at the gate of our drive I found Tommy the Mate on a ladder, 
covering, with flowers from the conservatory, a triumphal arch 
which the joiner had hammered up the day before. 

The old man hardly noticed me as I passed through, and 
this prompted me to look up and speak to him. 

' ' Tommy, ' ' I said, ' ' do you know you are the only one who 
hasn 't said a good word to me about my marriage ? ' ' 

' ' Am T, missy ? " he answered, without looking down. ' ' Then 
maybe that's because I've had so many bad ones to say to 
other people." 

I asked which other people. 

"Old Johnny Christopher, for one. I met him last night 
at the 'Horse and Saddle.' 'Grand doings at the Big House, 
they're telling me,' says Johnny. 'I won't say no,' I says. 
' It '11 be a proud day for the grand-daughter of Neill the Lord 
when she's mistress of Castle Raa,' says Johnny. 'Maybe so,' 
I says, 'but it 11 be a prouder day for Castle Raa when she 
sets her elane little foot in it.' ' 

TWENTY-EIGHTH CHAPTER 

I SHOULD find it difficult now, after all that has happened 
since, to convey an adequate idea of the sense of shame and 
personal dishonour which was produced in me by Father Dan 's 



118 THE WOMAN THOU GAYEST ME 

account of the contents of Martin's letter. It was like open- 
ing a door out of a beautiful garden into a stagnant ditch. 

That Martin's story was true I had never one moment's 
doubt, first because Martin had told it, and next because it 
agreed at all points with the little I had learned of Lord Raa 
in the only real conversation I had yet had with him. 

Obviously he cared for the other woman, and if, like his 
friend Eastcliff, he had been rich enough to please himself, 
he would have married her ; but being in debt, and therefore 
in need of an allowance, he was marrying me in return for my 
father's money. 

It was shocking. It was sinful. I could not believe that 
my father, the lawyers and the Bishop knew anything about it. 

I determined to tell them, but how to do so, being what I 
was, a young girl out of a convent, I did not know. 

Never before had I felt so deeply the need of my mother. 
If she had been alive I should have gone to her, and with my 
arms about her neck and my face in her breast, I should have 
told her all my trouble. 

There was nobody but Aunt Bridget, and little as I had 
ever expected to go to her under any circumstances, with many 
misgivings and after much hesitation I went. 

It was the morning before the day of my marriage. I 
followed my aunt as she passed through the house like a 
biting March wind, scolding everybody, until I found her in 
her own room. 

She was ironing her new white cap, and as I entered (look- 
ing pale, I suppose) she flopped down her flat iron on to its 
stand and cried : 

"Goodness me, girl, what's amiss? Caught a cold with 
your morning walks, eh? Haven't I enough on my hands 
without that? "We must send for the doctor straight. We 
can 't have you laid up now, after all this trouble and expense. ' ' 

"It isn't that, Auntie. " 

"Then in the name of goodness what is it?" 

I told her, as well as I could for the cold grey eyes that 
kept looking at me through their gold-rimmed spectacles. 
At first my aunt listened with amazement, and then she 
laughed outright. 

"So you've heard that story, have you? Mary O'Neill," 
she said, with a thump of her flat iron, " I 'm surprised at you. " 

I asked if she thought it wasn't true. 



MY MARRIAGE 119 

"How do I know if it's true? And what do I care whether 
it is or isn't? Young men will be young men, I suppose." 

She went on with her ironing as she added: 

"Did you expect you were marrying a virgin? If every 
woman asked for that there would be a nice lot of old maids 
in the world, wouldn't there?" 

I felt myself flushing up to the forehead, yet I managed 
to say: 

' ' But if he is practically married to the other woman. ..." 

"Not he married. Whoever thinks about marriage in 
company like that? You might as well talk about marriage 
in the hen coop." 

"But all the same if he cares for her, Auntie. . . ." 

"Who says he cares for her? And if he does he'll settle 
her off and get rid of her before he marries you." 

"But will that be right?" I said, whereupon my aunt 
rested her iron and looked at me as if I had said something 
shameful. 

"Mary O'Neill, what do you mean? Of course it will be 
right. He shouldn't have two women, should he? Do you 
think the man's a barn-door rooster?" 

My confusion was increasing, but I said that in any case 
my intended husband could not care for me, or he would have 
seen more of me. 

"Oh, you'll see enough of him by and by. Don't you 
worry about that." 

I said I was not sure that he had made me care much for 
him. 

"Time enough for that, too. You can't expect the man 
to work miracles." 

Then, with what courage was left me, I tried to say that 
I had been taught to think of marriage as a sacrament, 
instituted by the Almighty so that those who entered it 
might live together in union, peace and love, whereas . . . 

But I had to stop, for Aunt Bridget, who had been looking 
at me with her hard lip curled, said : 

"Tut! That's all right to go to church with on Sunday, 
but on weekdays marriage is no moonshine, I can tell you. 
It's a practical matter. Just an arrangement for making a 
home, and getting a family, and bringing up children 
that's what marriage is, if you ask me." 

' ' But don 't you think love is necessary ? ' ' 

"Depends what you mean by love. If you mean what 



120 THE WOMAN THOU GAVEST ME 

they talk about in poetry and songs bleeding hearts and 
sighs and kisses and all that nonsense no!" said my aunt, 
with a heavy bang on her ironing. 

"That's what people mean when they talk about marrying 
for love, and it generally ends in poverty and misery, and 
sensible women have nothing to do with it. Look at me," 
she said, spitting on the bottom of her iron, "do you think I 
married for love when I married the colonel? No indeed! 
'Here's a quiet respectable man with a nice income,' I said, 
'and if I put my little bit to his little bit we'll get along 
comfortably if he is a taste in years,' I said. Look at your 
mother, though. She was one of the marrying-for-love kind, 
and if we had let her have her way where would she have been 
afterwards with her fifteen years as an invalid? And where 
would you have been by this time ? No, ' ' said Aunt Bridget, 
bringing down her flat-iron with a still heavier bang, "a 
common-sense marriage, founded on suitability of position 
and property, and all that, is the only proper sort of match. 
And that's what's before you now, girl, so for goodness' sake 
don't go about like the parish pan, letting every busybody 
make mischief with you. My Betsy wouldn 't if she had your 
chance I can tell you that much, my lady." 

I did not speak. There was another bang or two of the 
flat-iron, and then, 

"Besides, love will come. Of course it will. It will 
come in time. If you don't exactly love your husband when 
you marry him you'll love him later on. A wife ought to teach 
herself to love her husband. I know I had to, and if ..." 

"But if she can't, Auntie?" 

' ' Then she ought to be ashamed of herself, and say nothing 
about it." 

It was useless to say more, so I rose to go. 

"Yes, go," said Aunt Bridget. "I'm so bothered with 
other people's business that my head's all through-others. 
And, Mary O'Neill," she said, looking after me as I passed 
through the door, "for mercy's sake do brighten up a bit, 
and don't look as if marrying a husband was like taking a 
dose of jalap. It isn't as bad as that, anyway." 

It served me right. I should have known better. My 
aunt and I spoke different languages; we stood on different 
ground. 

Returning to my room I found a letter from Father Dan. 
It ran 



MY MAEEIAGE 121 

" 'Dear Daughter in Jesus, 

"I have been afraid to go far into the story we spoke 
about from fear of offending my Bishop, but I have inquired 
of your father and he assures me that there is not a word of 
truth in it. 

"So I am compelled to believe that our good Martin must 
have been misinformed, and am dismissing the matter from 
my mind. Trusting you will dismiss it from your mind also, 

"Yours in Xt, 

"D. D." 

TWENTY-NINTH CHAPTER 

I COULD not do as Father Dan advised, being now en- 
meshed in the threads of innumerable impulses unknown to 
myself, and therefore firmly convinced that Martin's story 
was not only true, but a part of the whole sordid business 
whereby a husband was being bought for me. 

With this thought I went about all day, asking myself 
what I could do even yet, but finding no answer until nine 
o'clock at night, when, immediately after supper (we lived 
country fashion), Aunt Bridget said: 

"Now then, off to bed, girls. Everybody must be stirring 
early in the morning." 

And then I slipped upstairs to my room, and replied to 
Father Dan. 

Never had I written such a letteu before. I poured my 
whole heart on to the paper, saying what marriage meant to 
me, as the Pope himself had explained it, a sacrament imply- 
ing and requiring love as the very soul of it, and since I did 
not feel this love for the man I was about to marry, and had 
no grounds for thinking he felt it for me, and being sure that 
other reasons had operated to bring us together, I begged 
Father Dan, by his memory of my mother, and his affection 
for me, and his desire to see me good and happy, to intervene 
with my father and the Bishop, even at this late hour, and 
at the church door itself to stop the ceremony. 

It was late before I finished, and I thought the household 
was asleep, but just as I was coming to an end I heard my 
father moving in the room below, and then a sudden impulse 
came to me, and with a new thought I went downstairs and 
knocked at his door. 

"Who's there?" he cried. "Come in." 

He was sitting in his shirt sleeves, shaving before a look- 



122 THE WOMAN THOU GAYEST ME 

ing-glass which was propped up against two ledgers. The 
lather on his upper lip gave his face a fierce if rather gro- 
tesque expression. 

"Oh, it's you," he said. "Sit down. Got to do this 
to-night goodness knows if I'll have time for it in the 
morning. ' ' 

I took the seat in the ingle which Father Dan occupied on 
the night of my birth. The fire had nearly burnt out. 

"Thought you were in bed by this time. Guess I should 
have been in bed myself but for this business. Look there" 
he pointed with the handle of his razor to the table littered 
with papers "that's a bit of what I've had to do for you. 
I kind o' think you ought to be grateful to your father, 
my gel." 

I told him he was very kind, and then, very nervously, said : 

"But are you sure it's quite right, sir?" 

Not catching my meaning he laughed. 

"Right?" he said, holding the point of his nose aside 
between the tips of his left thumb and first finger. "Guess 
it's about as right as law and wax can make it." 

"I don't mean that, sir. I mean . . ." 

' ' What ? " he said, facing round. 

Then trembling and stammering I told him. I did not 
love Lord Raa. Lord Raa did not love me. Therefore I 
begged him for my sake, for his sake, for everybody's sake 
(I think I said for my mother's sake also) to postpone our 
marriage. 

At first my father seemed unable to believe his own ears. 

"Postpone? Now? After all this money spent? And 
everything signed and sealed and witnessed ! ' ' 

"Yes, if you please, sir, because. . . ." 

I got no farther, for flinging down his razor my father 
rose in a towering rage. 

"Are you mad? Has somebody been putting the evil eye 
on you? The greatest match this island has ever seen, and 
you say postpone put if off, stop it, that's what you mean. 
Do you want to make a fool of a man? At the last moment, 
too. Just when there's nothing left but to go to the High 
Bailiff and the Church! . . . But I see I see what it is. 
It's that young Conrad he's been writing to you." 

I tried to say no, but my father bore me down. 

"Don't go to deny it, ma'am. He has been writing to 
every one the Bishop, Father Dan, myself even. Denounc- 
ing the marriage if you plaze." 



MY MARRIAGE 123 

My father, in his great excitement, was breaking with 
withering scorn into his native speech. 

"Aw yes, though, denouncing and damning it, they're 
telling me! Mighty neighbourly of him, I'm sure! Just a 
neighbour lad without a penny at his back to take all that 
throuble ! If I had known he felt like that about it I might 
have axed his consent! The imperence, though! The 
imperence of sin! A father has no rights, it seems! A 
daughter is a separate being, and all to that! Well, well! 
Amazing thick, isn't it?" 

He was walking up and down the room with his heavy 
tread, making the floor shake. 

"Then that woman in Rome I wouldn't trust but she 
has been putting notions into your head, too. All the new- 
fangled fooleries, 111 go bail. Women and men equal, not a 
ha'p'orth of difference between them! The blatherskites!" 

I was silenced, and I must have covered my face and cried, 
for after a while my father softened, and touching my 
shoulder he asked me if a man of sixty-five was not likely to 
know better than a girl of nineteen what was good for her, 
and whether I supposed he had not satisfied himself that this 
marriage was a good thing for me and for him and for 
everybody. 

"Do you think I'm not doing my best for you, gel my 
very best?" - 

I must have made some kind of assent, for he said : 

"Then don't moither me any more, and don't let your 
Aunt Bridget moither me telling me and telling me what I 
might have done for her own daughter instead." 

At last, with a kind of rough tenderness, he took me by 
the arm and raised me to my feet. 

"There, there, go to bed and get some sleep. We'll have 
to start off for the High Bailiff's early in the morning." 

My will was broken down. I could resist no longer. 
Without a word more I left him. 

Returning to my room I took the letter I had been writing 
to Father Dan and tore it up piece by piece. As I did so I 
felt as if I were tearing up a living thing something of 
myself, my heart and all that was contained in it. 

Then I threw open the window and leant out. I could 
hear the murmur of the sea. I felt as if it were calling to me, 
though I could not interpret its voice. The salt air was 
damp and it refreshed my eyelids. 



124 THE WOMAN THOU GAYEST ME 

At length I got into bed, shivering with cold. When I 
had put out the light I noticed that the moon, which was near 
the full, had a big yellow ring of luminous vapour around it. 

THIRTIETH CHAPTER 

MY sleep that night was much troubled by dreams. It was 
the same dream as before, again and again repeated the 
dream of frozen regions and of the great ice barrier, and 
then of the broken pen. 

When I awoke in the hazy light of the dawn I thought of 
what the Pope had said about beginning my wedding-day with 
penance and communion, so I rose at once to go to church. 

The dawn was broadening, but the household was still 
asleep, only the servants in the kitchen stirring when I 
stepped through a side door, and set out across the fields. 

The dew was thick on the grass, and under the gloom of a 
heavy sky the day looked cold and cheerless. A wind from 
the south-east had risen during the night, the sea was white 
with breakers, and from St. Mary's Rock there came the far- 
off moaning of surging waves. 

The church, too, when I reached it, looked empty and chill. 
The sacristan in the dim choir was arranging lilies and mar- 
guerites about the high altar, and only one poor woman, with 
a little red and black shawl over her head and shoulders, 
was kneeling in the side chapel where Father Dan was saying 
Mass, with a sleepy little boy in clogs to serve him. 

The woman was quite young, almost as young as myself, 
but she was already a widow, having lately lost her husband 
' ' at the herrings ' ' somewhere up by Stornoway, where he had 
gone down in a gale, leaving her with one child, a year old, 
and another soon to come. 

All this she told me the moment I knelt near her. The 
poor thing seemed to think I ought to have remembered her, 
for she had been at school with me in the village. 

"I'm Bella Quark that was," she whispered. "I married 
Willie Shimmin of the Lhen, you recollect. It 's only a month 
this morning since he was lost, but it seems like years and 
years. There isn't nothing in the world like it." 

She knew about my marriage, and said she wished me joy, 
though the world was "so dark and lonely for some." Then 
she said something about her "lil Willie." She had left him 
asleep in her cottage on the Curragh, and he might awake and 
cry before she got back, so she hoped Father Dan wouldn't 
keep her long. 



MY MARRIAGE 125 

I was so touched by the poor thing's trouble that I almost 
forgot my own, and creeping up to her side I put my arm 
through hers as we knelt together, and that was how the 
Father found us when he turned to put the holy wafer on our 
tongues. 

The wind must have risen higher while I was in the church, 
for when I was returning across the fields it lashed my skirts 
about my legs so that I could scarcely walk. A mist had 
come down and made a sort of monotonous movement in the 
mountains where they touched the vague line of the heavy sky. 

I should be afraid to say that Nature was still trying to 
speak to me in her strange inarticulate voice, but I cannot 
forget that a flock of yearlings, which had been sheltering 
under a hedge, followed me bleating to the last fence, and 
that the moaning of the sea about St. Mary's Rock was the 
last sound I heard as I re-entered the house. 

Everything there was running like a mill-race by this time. 
The servants were flying to and fro, my cousins were calling 
downstairs in accents of alarm, Aunt Bridget was answering 
them in tones of vexation, and my father was opening doors 
with a heavy push and closing them with a clash. 

They were all so suddenly pacified when I appeared that 
it flashed upon me at the moment that they must have 
thought I had run away. 

"Goodness gracious me, girl, where have you been?" 
said Aunt Bridget. 

I told her, and she was beginning to reproach me for not 
ordering round the carriage, instead of making my boots and 
stockings damp by traipsing across the grass, when my father 
said: 

"That'll do, that'll do! Change them and take a snack of 
something. I guess we 're due at Holm town in half an hour. ' ' 

I ate my breakfast standing, the car was brought round, 
and by eight o'clock my father and I arrived at the house of 
the High Bailiff, who had to perform the civil ceremony of my 
marriage according to the conditions required by law. 

The High Bailiff was on one knee before the fire in his 
office, holding a newspaper in front of it to make it burn. 

"Nobody else here yet?" asked my father. 

"Traa dy liooar" (time enough), the High Bailiff muttered. 

He was an elderly man of intemperate habits who spent his 
nights at the "Crown and Mitre," and was apparently out of 
humour at having been brought out of bed so early. 



126 THE WOMAN THOU GAVEST ME 

His office was a room of his private house. It had a high 
desk, a stool and a revolving chair. Placards were pinned 
on the walls, one over another, and a, Testament, with the 
binding much worn, lay on a table. The place looked half 
like a doctor's consulting room, and half like a small police 
court. 

Presently Mr. Curphy, my father's advocate, came in, 
rather irritatingly cheerful in that chill atmosphere, and, half 
an hour late, my intended husband arrived, with his London 
lawyer and his friend Easteliff. 

My mind was far from clear and I had a sense of seeing 
things by flashes only, but I remember that I thought Lord 
Raa was very nervous, and it even occurred to me that early 
as it was he had been drinking. 

' ' Beastly nuisance, isn 't it ? " he said to me aside, and then 
there was something about ' ' this legal fuss and f uddlement. ' ' 

With the air of a man with a grievance the High Bailiff 
took a big book out of the desk, and a smaller one off a shelf, 
and then we sat in a half circle, and the ceremony began. 

It was very brief and cold like a matter of business. As 
far as I can remember it consisted of two declarations which 
Lord Raa and I made first to the witnesses present and after- 
wards to each other. One of them stated that we knew of no 
lawful impediment why we should not be joined together in 
matrimony, and the other declared that we were there and 
then so joined. 

I remember that I repeated the words automatically, as 
the High Bailiff in his thick alcoholic voice read them out of 
the smaller of his books, and that Lord Raa, in tones of 
obvious impatience, did the same. 

Then the High Bailiff opened the bigger of his books, and 
after writing something in it himself he asked Lord Raa to 
sign his name, and this being done he asked me also. 

"Am I to sign, too?" I asked, vacantly. 

"Well, who else do you think?" said Mr. Curphy with a 
laugh. "Betsy Beauty perhaps, eh?" 

"Come, gel, come," said my father, sharply, and then I 
signed. 

I had no longer any will of my own. In this as in every- 
thing I did whatever was asked of me. 

It was all as dreary and lifeless as an empty house. I can 
remember that it made no sensible impression upon my heart. 
My father gave some money (a few shillings I think) to the 



MY MARRIAGE 127 

High Bailiff, who then tore a piece of perforated blue paper 
out of the bigger of his books and offered it to me, saying : 

"This belongs to you." 

"To me?" I said. 

"Who else?" said Mr. Curphy, who was laughing again, 
and then something was said by somebody about marriage 
lines and no one knowing when a wise woman might not 
want to use them. 

The civil ceremony of my marriage was now over, and Lord 
Raa, who had been very restless, rose to his feet, saying: 

"Beastly early drive. Anything in the house to steady 
one's nerves, High Bailiff?" 

The High Bailiff made some reply, at which the men 
laughed, all except my father. Then they left me and went 
into another room, the dining-room, and I heard the jingling 
of glasses and the drinking of healths while I sat before the 
fire with my foot on the fender and my marriage lines in my 
hand. 

My brain was still numbed, I felt as one might feel if 
drowned in the sea and descending, without quite losing 
consciousness, to the depths of its abyss. 

I remember I thought that what I had just gone through 
differed in no respect from the signing of my marriage settle- 
ment, except that in the one case I had given my husband 
rights over my money, my father's money, whereas in this 
case I seemed to have given him rights over myself. 

Otherwise it was all so cold, so drear, so dead, so unaffecting. 

The blue paper had slipped out of my hand on to the worn 
hearthrug when my helpless meditations were interrupted by 
the thrumming and throbbing of the motor-ear outside, and 
by my father, who was at the office door, saying in his loud, 
commanding voice: 

"Come, gel, guess it's tune for you to be back." 

Half an hour afterwards I was in my own room at home, 
and given over to the dressmakers. I was still being moved 
automatically a creature without strength or will. 

THIRTY-FIRST CHAPTER 

I HAVE only an indefinite memory of floating vaguely through 
the sights and sounds of the next two hours of everybody 
except myself being wildly excited; of my cousins calling 
repeatedly from unseen regions of the house ; of Aunt Bridget 
scolding indiscriminately ; of the dressmakers chattering with- 



128 THE WOMAN THOU GAVEST ME 

out ceasing as they fitted on my wedding dress; of their 
standing off from me at intervals with cries of delight at the 
success of their efforts; of the wind roaring in the chimney; 
of the church-bells ringing in the distance; of the ever- 
increasing moaning of the sea about St. Mary's Bock; and 
finally of the rumbling of the rubber wheels of several car- 
riages and the plash of horses ' hoofs on the gravel of the drive. 

When the dressmakers were done with me I was wearing an 
ivory satin dress, embroidered in silver, with a coronal of 
myrtle and orange blossoms under the old Limerick lace of 
the family veil, as well as a string of pearls and one big 
diamond of the noble house I was marrying into. I remember 
they said my black hair shone with a blue lustre against the 
sparkling gem, and I dare say I looked gay on the outside 
anyway. 

At last I heard a fluttering of silk outside my room, and a 
running stream of chatter going down the stairs, followed by 
the banging of carriage doors, and then my father's deep 
voice, saying: 

"Bride ready? Good! Time to go, I guess," 

He alone had made no effort to dress himself up, for he was 
still wearing his every-day serge and his usual heavy boots. 
There was not even a flower in his button-hole. 

We did not speak very much on our way to church, but I 
found a certain comfort in his big warm presence as we sat 
together in the carriage with the windows shut, for the rising 
storm was beginning to frighten me. 

"It will be nothing," said my father. "Just a puff of 
wind and a slant of rain maybe." 

The little church was thronged with people. Even the 
galleries were full of the children from the village school. 
There was a twittering overhead like that of young birds in a 
tree, and as I walked up the nave on my father's arm I could 
not help but hear over the sound of the organ the whispered 
words of the people in the pews on either side of us. 

"Dear heart alive, the straight like her mother she is, 
bless her!" 

"Goodness yes, it's the poor misfortunate mother come to 
life again." 

" 'Deed, but the daughter's in luck, though," 

Lord Raa was waiting for me by the communion rail. He 
looked yet more nervous than in the morning, and, though 
he was trying to bear himself with his usual composure, there 



MY MARRIAGE 129 

was (or I thought there was) a certain expression of fear in 
his face which I had never seen before. 

His friend and witness, Mr. Eastcliff, wearing a carnation 
button-hole, was by his side, and his aunt, Lady Margaret, 
carrying a sheaf of beautiful white flowers, was standing 
near. 

My own witnesses and bridesmaids, Betsy Beauty and Nessy 
MacLeod, in large hats, with soaring black feathers, were 
behind me. I could hear the rustle of their rose-coloured 
skirts and the indistinct buzz of their whispered conversa- 
tion, as well as the more audible reproofs of Aunt Bridget, 
who in a crinkly black silk dress and a bonnet like a half 
moon, was telling them to be silent and to look placid. 

At the next moment I was conscious that a bell had been 
rung in the chancel; that the organ had stopped; that the 
coughing and hemming in the church had ceased; that some- 
body was saying "Stand here, my lord"; that Lord Raa, 
with a nervous laugh, was asking ' ' Here ? ' ' and taking a place 
by my side ; that the lighted altar, laden with flowers, was in 
front of me ; and that the Bishop in his vestments, Father Dan 
in his surplice and white stole, and a clerk carrying a book 
and a vessel of holy water were beginning the service. 

Surely never was there a sadder ceremony. Never did any 
girl under similar circumstances feel a more vivid presenti- 
ment of the pains and penalties that follow on a forced and 
ill-assorted marriage. And yet there came to me in the course 
of the service such a startling change of thought as wiped out 
for a while all my sadness, made me forget the compulsion that 
had been put upon me, and lifted me into a realm of spiritual 
ecstasy. 

The Bishop began with a short litany which asked God's 
blessing on the ceremony which was to join together two of 
His children in the bonds of holy wedlock. While that was 
going on I was conscious of nothing except the howling of the 
wind about the church windows and the far-off tolling of the 
bell on St. Mary's Rock nothing but this and a voice within 
me which seemed to say again and again, ' ' I don 't love him ! 
I don't love him!" 

But hardly had the actual ceremony commenced when I 
began to be overawed by the solemnity and divine power of the 
service, and by the sense of God leaning over my littleness 
and guiding me according to His will. 

What did it matter how unworthy were the preparations 

I 



130 THE WOMAN THOU GAVEST ME 

that had led up to this marriage if God was making it ? God 
makes all marriages that are blessed by His Church, and 
therefore He overrules to His own good ends all human im- 
pulses, however sordid or selfish they may be. 

After that thought came to me nothing else seemed to 
matter, and nothing, however jarring or incongruous, was 
able to lower the exaltation of my spirit. 

But the service, which had this effect upon me, appeared 
to have an exactly opposite effect on Lord Raa. His nervous- 
ness increased visibly, though he did his best to conceal it 
by a lightness of manner that sometimes looked like derision. 

Thus when the Bishop stepped down to us and said : 

"James Charles Munster, wilt thou take Mary here present 
for thy lawful wife, according to the rite of our holy Mother 
the Church, ' ' my husband halted and stammered over his an- 
swer, saying beneath his breath, ' ' I thought I was a heretic. ' ' 

But when the corresponding question was put to me, and 
Father Dan thinking I must be nervous, leaned over me and 
whispered, "Don't worry, child, take your time," I replied 
in a loud, clear, unfaltering voice: 

"I will." 

And again, when my husband had to put the ring and the 
gold and silver on the salver (he fumbled and dropped them 
as he did so, and fumbled and dropped them a second time 
when he had to take them up after they had been blessed, 
laughing too audibly at his own awkwardness), and then 
repeat after the Bishop: 

' ' With this ring .1 thee wed ; this gold and silver I thee 
give ; with my body I thee worship ; and with all my worldly 
goods I thee endow," he tendered the ring slowly and with 
an obvious effort. 

But I took it without trembling, because I was thinking 
that, in spite of all I had heard of his ways of life, this solemn 
and sacred sacrament made him mine and no one else's. 

It is all very mysterious; I cannot account for it; I only 
know it was so, and that, everything considered, it was 
perhaps the strangest fact of all my life. 

I remember that more than once during the ceremony 
Father Dan spoke to me softly and caressingly, as if to a 
child, but I felt no need of his comforting, for my strength 
was from a higher source. 

I also remember that it was afterwards said that all through 
the ceremony the eyes of the newly-wedded couple seemed 



MY MARRIAGE 131 

sedulously to shun each other, but if I did not look at my 
husband it was because my marriage was like a prayer to me, 
carrying me back, with its sense of purity and sanctity, to 
the little sunlit church in Rome where Mildred Bankes had 
taken her vows. 

After the marriage service there was Nuptial Mass and 
Benediction (special dispensation from Rome), and that 
raised to a still higher pitch the spiritual exaltation which 
sustained me. 

Father Dan read the Epistle beginning "Let wives be 
subject to their husbands," and then the Bishop read the 
Gospel, concluding, "Therefore now they are not two, but 
one flesh: what therefore God hath joined together, let not 
man put asunder. ' ' 

I had trembled when I thought of these solemn and sonor- 
ous words in the solitude of my own room, but now that they 
were spoken before the congregation I had no fear, no mis- 
giving, nothing but a sense of rapture and consecration. 

The last words being spoken and Lord Raa and I being 
man and wife, we stepped into the sacristy to sign the register, 
and not even there did my spirit fail me. I took up the pen 
and signed my name without a tremor. But hardly had I 
done so when I heard a rumbling murmur of voices about me 
first the Bishop's voice (in such a worldly tone) and then my 
father's and then my husband's, and then the voices of many 
others, in light conversation mingled with trills of laughter. 
And then, in a moment, in a twinkling, as fast as a snowflake 
melts upon a stream, the spell of the marriage service seemed 
to break. 

I have heard since that my eyes were wet at that moment 
and I seemed to have been crying all through the ceremony. 
I know nothing about that, but I do know that I felt a kind 
of internal shudder and that it was just as if my soul had 
suddenly awakened from an intoxicating drug. 

The organ began to play the Wedding March, and my 
husband, putting my arm through his, said, ' ' Come. 

There was much audible whispering among the people wait- 
ing for us in the church, and as we walked towards the door 
I saw ghostly faces smiling at me on every side, and heard 
ghostly voices speaking in whispers that were like the back- 
ward plash of wavelets on the shore. 

"Sakes alive, how white's she's looking, though," said 



132 THE WOMAN THOU GAVEST ME 

somebody, and then somebody else said I could not help 
but hear it 

' ' Dear heart knows if her father has done right for all that. ' ' 

I did not look at anybody, but I saw Martin's mother at 
the back, and she was wiping her eyes and saying to some one 
by her side it must have been the doctor 

"God bless her for the sweet child veen she always was, 
anj^way. ' ' 

The storm had increased during the service ; and the sacris- 
tan, who was opening the door for us, had as much as he 
could do to hold it against the wind, which came with such a 
rush upon us when we stepped into the porch that my veil 
and the coronal of myrtle and orange blossoms were torn off 
my head and blown back into the church. 

"God bless my sowl," said somebody it was Tommy's 
friend, Johnny Christopher "there's some ones would be 
sailing that bad luck, though." 

A band of village musicians, who were ranged up in the 
road, struck up "The Black and Grey" as we stepped out of 
the churchyard, and the next thing I knew was that my 
husband and I were in the carriage going home. 

He had so far recovered from the frightening effects of 
the marriage service that he was making light of it, and 
saying : 

"When will this mummery come to an end, I wonder?" 

The windows of the carriage were rattling with the wind, 
and my husband had begun to talk of the storm when we came 
upon the trunk of a young tree which had. been torn up by 
the roots and was lying across the road, so that our coachman 
had to get down and remove it. 

"Beastly bad crossing, I'm afraid. Hope you're a good 
sailor. Must be in London to-morrow morning, you know." 

The band was playing behind us. The leafless trees were 
beating their bare boughs in front. The wedding bells were 
pealing. The storm was thundering through the running 
sky. The sea was very loud. 

At my father's gate Tommy the Mate, with a serious face, 
was standing, cap in hand, under his triumphal arch, which 
(as well as it could for the wind that was tearing its flowers 
and scattering them on the ground) spelled out the words 
"God bless the Happy Bride." 

When we reached the open door of the house a group of 



MY MARRIAGE 133 

maids were waiting for us. They were holding on to their 
white caps and trying to control their aprons, which were 
swirling about their black frocks. As I stepped out of the 
carriage they addressed me as "My lady" and "Your lady- 
ship. ' ' The seagulls, driven up from the sea, were screaming 
about the house. 

My husband and I went into the drawing-room, and as we 
stood together on the hearthrug I caught a glimpse of my face 
in the glass over the mantelpiece. It was deadly white, and 
had big staring eyes and a look of faded sunshine. I fixed 
afresh the pearls about my neck and the diamond in my hair, 
which was much disordered. 

Almost immediately the other carriages returned, and rela- 
tives and guests began to pour into the room and offer us 
their congratulations. First came my cousins, who were 
too much troubled about their own bedraggled appearance 
to pay much attention to mine. Then Aunt Bridget, holding 
on to her half -moon bonnet and crying: 

"You happy, happy child! But what a wind! There's 
been nothing like it since the day you were born." 

My father came next, like a gale of wind himself, saying: 

"I'm proud of you, gel. Right proud I am. You done 
well." 

Then came Lady Margaret, who kissed me without saying 
many words, and finally a large and varied company of gaily- 
dressed friends and neighbours, chiefly the "aristocracy" 
of our island, who lavished many unnecessary "ladyships" 
upon me, as if the great name reflected a certain glory upon 
themselves. 

I remember that as I stood on the hearthrug with my hus- 
band, receiving their rather crude compliments, a vague gaiety 
came over me, and I smiled and laughed, although my heart 
was growing sick, for the effect of the wedding-service was 
ebbing away into a cold darkness like that of a night tide 
when the moonlight has left it. 

It did not comfort me that my husband, without failing 
in good manners, was taking the whole scene and company 
with a certain scarcely-veiled contempt which I could not help 
but see. 

And neither did it allay my uneasiness to glance at my 
father, where he stood at the end of the room, watching, with 
a look of triumph in his glistening black eyes, his proud 
guests coming up to me one by one, and seeming to say to 



134 THE WOMAN THOU GAVEST ME 

himself, "They're here at last! I've bet them! Yes, by 
gough, I've bet them!" 

Many a time since I have wondered if his conscience did 
not stir within him as he looked across at his daughter in the 
jewels of the noble house he had married her into the pale 
bride with the bridegroom he had bought for her and thought 
of the mockery of a sacred union which he had brought about 
to gratify his pride, his vanity, perhaps his revenge. 

But it was all over now. I was married to Lord Raa. In 
the eyes equally of the law, the world and the Church, the 
knot between us was irrevocably tied. 

MEMORANDUM BY MARTIN CONRAD 

I am no mystic and no spiritualist, and I only mention 
it as one of the mysteries of human sympathy between 
far-distant friends, that during a part of the time when 
my dear one was going through the fierce struggle she 
describes, and was dreaming of frozen regions and a broken 
pen, the ship I sailed on had got itself stuck fast in a 
field of pack ice in latitude 76, under the ice barrier by 
Charcot Bay, and that while we were lying like helpless 
logs, cut off from communication with the world, unable to 
do anything but groan and swear and kick our heels in our 
bunks at every fresh grinding of our crunching sides, my 
own mind, sleeping and waking, was for ever swinging 
back, with a sort of yearning prayer to my darling not to 
yield to the pressure which I felt so damnably sure was 
being brought to bear on her. 

M. C. 



THIRD PART 
MY HONEYMOON 

THIRTY-SECOND CHAPTER 

WHEN the Bishop and Father Dan arrived, the bell was rung 
and we went in to breakfast. 

We breakfasted in the new dining-room, which was now 
finished and being used for the first time. 

It was a gorgeous chamber beblazoned with large candel- 
abra, huge mirrors, and pictures in gold frames resembling 
the room it was intended to imitate, yet not resembling it, 
as a woman over-dressed resembles a well-dressed woman. 

My father sat at the head of his table with the Bishop, 
Lady Margaret and Aunt Bridget on his right, and myself, 
my husband, Betsy Beauty and Mr. Eastcliff on his left. The 
lawyers and the trustee were midway down, Father Dan 
with Nessy MacLeod was at the end, and a large company 
of our friends and neighbours, wearing highly-coloured 
flowers on their breasts and in their buttonholes, sat 
between. 

The meal was very long, and much of the food was very 
large large fish, large roasts of venison, veal, beef and mut- 
ton, large puddings and large cheeses, all cut on the table 
and served by waiters from Blackwater. There were two 
long black lines of them a waiter behind the chair of nearly 
every other guest. 

All through the breakfast the storm raged outside. More 
than once it drowned the voices of the people at the table, 
roaring like a wild beast in the great throat of the wide 
chimney, swirling about the lantern light, licking and lashing 
and leaping at the outsides of the walls like lofty waves 
breaking against a breakwater, and sending up a thunderous 
noise from the sea itself, where the big bell of St. Mary's 
Rock was still tolling like a knell. 

Somebody it must have been Aunt Bridget again said 
there had been nothing like it since the day of my birth, and 
it must be "fate." 

"Chut, woman!" said my father. "We're living in the 

135 



136 THE WOMAN THOU GAVEST ME 

twentieth century. Who's houlding with such ould wife's 
wonders now?" 

He was intensely excited, and, his excitement betrayed 
itself, as usual, in reversion to his native speech. Sometimes 
he surveyed in silence, with the old masterful lift of his 
eyebrows, his magnificent room and the great guests who 
were gathered within it ; sometimes he whispered to the waiters 
to be smarter with the serving of the dishes; and sometimes 
he pitched his voice above the noises within and without and 
shouted, in country-fashion, to his friends at various points 
of the table to know how they were faring. 

"How are you doing, Mr. Curphy, sir?" 

' ' Doing well, sir. Are you doing well yourself, Mr. *Neill, 
sir?" 

' ' Lord-a-massy yes, sir. I 'm always doing well, sir. ' ' 

Never had anybody in Elian seen so strange a mixture of 
grandeur and country style. My husband seemed to be divided 
between amused contempt for it, and a sense of being compro- 
mised by its pretence. More than once I saw him, with his 
monocle in his eye, look round at his friend Eastcliff, but he 
helped himself frequently from a large decanter of brandy 
and drank healths with everybody. 

There were the usual marriage pleasantries, facetious com- 
pliments and chaff, in which to my surprise (the solemnity 
of the service being still upon me) the Bishop permitted 
himself to join. 

I was now very nervous, and yet I kept up a forced gaiety, 
though my heart was cold and sick. I remember that I had 
a preternatural power of hearing at the same time nearly 
every conversation that was going on at the table, and that 
I joined in nearly all the laughter. 

At a more than usually loud burst of wind somebody said 
it would be a mercy if the storm did not lift the roof off. 

"Chut, man!" cried my father. "Solid oak and wrought 
iron here. None of your mouldy old monuments that have 
enough to do to keep their tiles on. ' ' 

"Then nobody," said my husband with a glance at his 
friend, "need be afraid of losing his head in your house, sir?" 

"Not if he's got one to come in with, sir." 

Betsy Beauty, sitting next to Mr. Eastcliff, was wondering 
if he would do us the honour to visit the island oftener now 
that his friend had married into it. 

"But, my dear Betsy," said my husband, "who would 
live in this God-forsaken place if he could help it?" 



MY HONEYMOON 137 

"God-forsaken, is it?" said my father. "Maybe so, sir 
but that's what the cuckoo said after he had eaten the eggs 
out of the thrush's nest and left a mess in it." 

Aunt Bridget was talking in doleful tones to Lady Margaret 
about my mother, saying she had promised her on her death- 
bed to take care of her child and had been as good as her word, 
always putting me before her own daughter, although her 
ladyship would admit that Betsy was a handsome girl, and, 
now that his lordship was married, there were few in the 
island that were fit for her. 

' ' Why no, Mrs. MacLeod, ' ' said my husband, after another 
significant glance at his friend, "I dare say you've not got 
many who can make enough to keep a carriage ? ' ' 

' ' Truth enough, sir, ' ' said my father. ' ' We 've got hundreds 
and tons that can make debts though." 

The breakfast came to an end at length, and almost before 
the last of the waiters had left the room my father rose to 
speak. 

"Friends all," he said, "the young married couple have to 
leave us for the afternoon steamer. ' ' 

"In this weather?" said somebody, pointing up to the 
lantern light through which the sky was now darkening. 

"Chut! A puff of wind and a slant of rain, as I've been 
saying to my gel here. But my son-in-law, Lord Raa," (loud 
cheers followed this description, with some laughter and much 
hammering on the table), "my son-in-law says he has to be 
in London to-morrow, and this morning my daughter has 
sworn obedience. . . . What's that, Monsignor? Not obe- 
dience exactly? Something like it then, so she's bound to 
go along with him. So fill up your glasses to the brim and 
drink to the bride and bridegroom." 

As soon as the noise made by the passing of decanters 
had died down my father spoke again. 

"This is the proudest day of my life. It's the day I've 
worked for and slaved for and saved for, and it's come to 
pass at last." 

There was another chorus of applause. 

"What's that you were saying in church, Mr. Curphy, sir? 
Time brings in its revenges? It does too. Look at me." 

My father put his thumbs in the arm-pits of his waistcoat. 

"You all know what I am, and where I come from." 

My husband put his monocle to his eye and looked up. 

"I come from a mud cabin on the Curragh, not a hundred 



138 THE WOMAN THOU GAYEST ME 

miles from here. My father was kill . . . but never mind 
about that now. "When he left us it was middling hard collar 
work, I can tell you what with me working the bit of a croft 
and the mother weeding for some of you some of your 
fathers I mane ninepence a day dry days, and sixpence all 
weathers. When I was a lump of a lad I was sworn at in the 
high road by a gentleman driving in his grand carriage, and 
the mother was lashed by his . . . but never mind about 
that neither. I guess I've hustled round considerable since 
then, and this morning I've married my daughter into the 
first family in the island." 

There was another burst of cheering at this, but it was 
almost drowned by the loud rattling of the rain which was 
now falling on the lantern light. 

"Monsignor," cried my father, pitching his voice still 
higher, "what's that you were saying in Rome about the 
mills of God?" 

Fumbling his jewelled cross and smiling blandly the Bishop 
gave my father the familiar quotation. 

"Truth enough, too. The mills of God grind slowly but 
they're grinding exceeding small. Nineteen years ago I 
thought I was as sure of what I wanted as when I got out of 
bed this morning. If my gel here had been born a boy, my 
son would have sat where his lordship is now sitting. But 
all's well that ends well! If I haven't got a son I've got a 
son-in-law, and when I get a grandson he'll be the richest 
man that ever stepped into Castle Raa, and the uncrowned 
king of Elian." 

At that there was a tempest of cheers, which, mingling 
with the clamour of the storm, made a deafening tumult. 

"They're saying a dale nowadays about fathers and chil- 
dren daughters being separate beings, and all to that. But 
show me the daughter that could do better for herself than 
my gel's father has done for her. She has a big fortune, and 
her husband has a big name, and what more do they want in 
this world anyway ? ' ' 

"Nothing at all," came from various parts of the room. 

"Neighbours," said my father, looking round him with a 
satisfied smile, "I'm laving you dry as herrings in a hould, 
but before I call on you to drink this toast I '11 ask the Bishop 
to spake to you. He's a grand man is the Bishop, and in 
fixing up this marriage I don't in the world know what I 
could have done without him. ' ' 



MY HONEYMOON 139 

The Bishop, still fingering his jewelled cross and smiling, 
spoke in his usual suave voice. He firmly believed that the 
Church had that morning blessed a most propitious and happy 
union. Something might be said against mixed marriages, 
but under proper circumstances the Church had never for- 
bidden them and his lordship (this with a deep bow to my 
husband) had behaved with great liberality of mind. 

As for what their genial and rugged host had said of cer- 
tain foolish and dangerous notions about the relations of father 
and child, he was reminded that there were still more foolish 
and dangerous ones about the relations of husband and wife. 

From the earliest ages of the Church, however, those rela- 
tions had been exactly defined. "Let wives be subject to 
their husbands," said the Epistle we had read this morning, 
and no less conclusive had been our closing prayer, asking 
that the wife keep true faith with her husband, being lovely 
in his eyes even as was Rachel, wise as was Rebecca, and 
dutiful as was Sara. 

"Beautiful!" whispered Aunt Bridget to Lady Margaret. 
"It's what I always was myself in the days of the dear 
Colonel." 

"And now," said the Bishop, "before you drink this toast 
and call upon the noble bridegroom to respond to it," (another 
deep bow to my husband), "I will ask for a few words from 
the two legal gentlemen who have carried out the admirably 
judicious financial arrangements without which this happy 
marriage would have been difficult if not impossible. ' ' 

Then my husband's lawyer, with a supercilious smile on 
his clean-shaven face, said it had been an honour to him to 
assist in preparing the way for the "uncrowned king of 
Elian. " ("It lias, sir, ' ' cried my father in a loud voice which 
straightened the gentleman's face instantly) ; and finally Mr. 
Curphy, speaking through his long beard, congratulated my 
father and my husband equally on the marriage, and gave it 
as his opinion that there could be no better use for wealth 
than to come to the rescue of an historic family which had 
fallen on evil times and only required a little money to set 
it on its feet again. 

"The bride and bridegroom!" cried my father; and then 
everybody rose and there was much cheering, with cries of 
"His lordship," "His lordship." 

All through the speech-making my husband had rolled 



140 THE WOMAN THOU GAYEST ME 

uneasily in his chair. He had also helped himself frequently 
from the decanter, so that when he got up to reply he was 
scarcely sober. 

In his drawling voice he thanked the Bishop, and said that 
having made up his mind to the marriage he had never dreamt 
of raising difficulties about religion. As to the modern notions 
about the relations of husband and wife, he did not think a 
girl brought up in a convent would give him much trouble on 
that subject. 

"Not likely," cried my father. "Ill clear her of that 
anyway." 

"So I thank you for myself and for my family," continued 
my husband, "and . . . Oh, yes, of course," (this to 
Lady Margaret). "I thank you for my wife also, and . . . 
and that's all." 

I felt sick and cold and ashamed. A rush of blood came 
under the skin of my face that must have made me red to the 
roots of my hair. 

In all this speaking about my marriage there had not been 
one word about myself myself really, a living soul with all 
her future happiness at stake. I cannot say what vague 
impulse took possession of me, but I remember that when my 
husband sat down I made a forced laugh, though I knew well 
that I wanted to cry. 

In an agony of shame I was beginning to feel a wild desire 
to escape from the room and even from the house, that I 
might breathe in some of the free wind outside, when all at 
once I became aware that somebody else was speaking. 

It was Father Dan. He had risen unannounced from his 
seat at the end of the table. I saw his sack coat which was 
much worn at the seams; I saw his round face which was 
flushed; I heard the vibrating note in his soft Irish voice 
which told me he was deeply moved ; and then I dropped my 
head, for I knew what was coming. 

THIRTY-THIRD CHAPTER 

"MB. O'NEILL," said Father Dan, "may your parish priest 
take the liberty of speaking without being spoken to?" 

My father made some response, and then a hush fell over 
the dining-room. Either the storm ceased for a time, or in my 
great agitation it seemed to do so, for I did not hear it. 

"We have heard a great deal about the marriage we have 



MY HONEYMOON 141 

celebrated to-day, but have we not forgotten something? 
What is marriage? Is it the execution of a contract! Is it 
the signing of a register? Is it even the taking of an oath 
before an altar? No. Marriage is the sacred covenant which 
two souls make with each other, the woman with the man, the 
man with the woman, when she chooses him from all other 
men, when he chooses her from all other women, to belong to 
each other for ever, so that no misfortune, no storm of life, 
no sin on either side shall ever put them apart. That's what 
marriage is, and all we have been doing to-day is to call on 
God and man to bear witness to that holy bond." 

My heart was beating high. I raised my head, and I think 
my eyes must have been shining. I looked across at the 
Bishop. His face was showing signs of vexation. 

"Mr. O'Neill, sir," cried Father Dan, raising his trembling 
voice, "you say your daughter has a big fortune and her 
husband has a big name, and what more do they want in this 
world? I'll tell you what they want, sir. They want love, 
love on both sides, if they are to be good and happy, and if 
they've got that they've got something which neither wealth 
nor rank can buy. ' ' 

I had dropped my head again, but under my eyelashes I 
could see that the company were sitting spell-bound. Only 
my husband was shuffling in his seat, and the Bishop was 
plucking at his gold chain. 

"My Bishop," said Father Dan, "has told us of the sub- 
mission a wife owes to her husband, and of her duty to be 
lovely and wise and faithful in his eyes. But isn't it the 
answering thought that the husband on his part owes some- 
thing to the wife? Aren't we told that he shall put away 
everything and everybody for her sake, and cleave to her and 
cling to her and they shall be one flesh? Isn't that, too, a 
divine commandment?" 

My heart was throbbing so loud by this time that the next 
words were lost to me. When I came to myself again Father 
Dan was saying: 

"Think what marriage means to a woman a young girl 
especially. It means the breaking of old ties, the beginning 
of a new life, the setting out into an unknown world on a 
voyage from which there can be no return. In her weakness 
and her helplessness she leaves one dependency for another, 
the shelter of a father for the shelter of a husband. What does 
she bring to the man she marries ? Herself, everything she is, 



142 THE WOMAN THOU GAYEST ME 

everything she can be, to be made or marred by him, and 
never, never, never to be the same to any other man whatsoever 
as long as life shall last." 

More than ever now, but for other reasons, I wanted to fly 
from the room. 

"Friends," cried Father Dan, "we don't know much of the 
bridegroom in this parish, but we know the bride. We've 
known her all her life. We know what she is. I do, anyway. 
If you are her father, Mr. O'Neill, sir, I am her father also. 
I was in this house when she was born. I baptized her. I took 
her out of the arms of the angel who bore her. So she's my 
child too, God bless her . . . " 

His voice was breaking I was sobbing though he was 
speaking so loudly I could scarcely hear him I could scarcely 
see him I only knew that he was facing about in our direction 
and raising his trembling hand to my husband. 

' ' She is my child, too, I say, and now that she is leaving us, 
now that you are taking her away from us, I charge you, my 
lord, to be good and faithful to her, as you will have to answer 
for her soul some day. ' ' 

What else he said I do not know. From that moment I was 
blind and deaf to everything. Nevertheless I was conscious 
that after Father Dan had ceased to speak there was a painful 
silence. I thought the company seemed to be startled and 
even a little annoyed by the emotion so suddenly shot into 
their midst. The Bishop looked vexed, my father looked 
uncomfortable, and my husband, who had been drinking glass 
after glass of brandy, was muttering something about "a 
sermon. ' ' 

It had been intended that Mr. Easteliff should speak for the 
bridesmaids, and I was afterwards told by Betsy Beauty that 
he had prepared himself with many clever epigrams, but 
everybody felt there could be no more speaking of any kind 
now. After a few awkward moments my father looked at his 
watch and said it was about time for us to start if we were to 
catch the steamer, so I was hurried upstairs to change for our 
journey. 

When I came down again, in my tailor-made travelling dress 
with sables, the whole company was in the hall and everybody 
seemed to be talking at the same time, making a noise like 
water in a weir. 

I was taken possession of by each in turn. Nessy MacLeod 
told me in an aside what an excellent father I had. Betsy 



MY HONEYMOON 143 

Beauty -whispered that Mr. Eastcliff was so handsome and 
their tastes were so similar that she hoped I would invite him 
to Castle Raa as soon as I came back. Aunt Bridget, sur- 
rounded by a group of sympathising ladies (including Lady 
Margaret, who was making an obvious effort to be gracious) 
was wiping her eyes and saying I had always been her 
favourite and she had faithfully done her duty by me. 

"Mary, my love," she said, catching my eye, "I'm just 
telling her ladyship I don't know in the world what I'll do 
when you are gone. ' ' 

My husband was there too, wearing a heavy overcoat with 
the collar up, and receiving from a group of insular gentlemen 
their cheerful prognostics of a bad passage. 

' ' 'Deed, but I 'm fearing it will be a dirty passage, my 
lord." 

' ' Chut ! ' ' said my father. ' ' The wind 's from the southwest. 
They'll soon get shelter." 

The first of our two cars came round and my husband's 
valet went off in advance with our luggage. Then the second 
car arrived, and the time came for our departure. I think I 
kissed everybody. Everybody seemed to be crying every- 
body except myself, for my tears were all gone by this tune. 

Just as we were about to start, the storm, which must 
certainly have fallen for a while, sprang up suddenly, and 
when Tommy the Mate (barely recognisable in borrowed black 
garments) opened the door the wind came rushing into the 
house with a long-drawn whirr. 

I had said good-bye to the old man, and was stepping into 
the porch when I remembered Father Dan. He was standing 
in his shabby sack coat with a sorrowful face in a dark corner 
by the door, as if he had placed himself there to see the last of 
me. I wanted to put my arms around his neck, but I knew 
that would be wrong, so I dropped to my knees and kissed his 
hand and he gave me his blessing. 

My husband, who was waiting by the side of the throbbing 
automobile, said impatiently : 

"Come, come, dear, don't keep me in the rain." 

I got into the landaulette, my husband got in after me, the 
car began to move, there were cries from within the house 
("Good-bye!" "Good luck!") which sounded like stifled 
shrieks as they were carried off by the wind without, and then 
we were under weigh. 

As we turned the corner of the -drive something prompted 



144 THE WOMAN THOU GAYEST ME 

me to look back at my mother's window with its memories 
of my first going to school. 

At the next moment we were crossing the bridge with its 
memories of Martin Conrad and William Rufus. 

At the next we were on the road. 

THIRTY-FOURTH CHAPTER 

"THANK God, that's over," said my husband. Then, half 
apologetically, he added: "You didn't seem to enjoy it any 
more than myself, my dear." 

At the entrance to our village a number of men stood firing 
guns; in the middle a group of girls were stretching a rope 
across the road ; a number of small flags, torn by the wind and 
wet with the rain, were rattling on flagstaffs hung out from 
some of the window sills ; a few women, with shawls over their 
heads, were sheltering on the weather side of their porches 
to see us pass. 

My husband was impatient of our simple island customs. 
Once or twice he lowered the window of the car, threw out a 
handful of silver and at the same time urged the chauffeur to 
drive quicker. As soon as we were clear of the village he fell 
back in his seat, saying : 

"Heavens, how sleepy I am! No wonder either! Late 
going to bed last night and up so early this morning. ' ' 

After a moment he began to yawn, and almost before he 
could have been aware of it he had closed his eyes. At the 
next moment he was asleep. 

It was a painful, almost a hideous sleep. His cheeks swelled 
and sank; his lips parted, he was breathing heavily, and 
sometimes gaping like a carp out of water. 

1 could not detach my eyes from his face, which, without 
eyes to relieve it, seemed to be almost repulsive now. It would 
be difficult to describe my sensations. I felt dreadfully humili- 
ated. Even my personal pride was wounded. I remembered 
what Father Dan had said about husband and wife being one 
flesh, and told myself that this was what I belonged to, what 
belonged to me this! Then I tried to reproach and reprove 
myself, but in order to do so I had to turn my eyes away. 

Our road to Blackwater lay over the ridge of a hill much 
exposed to the wind from the south-west. When we reached 
this point the clouds seemed to roll up from the sea like 
tempestuous battalions. Torrential rain fell on the car and 



MY HONEYMOON 145 

came dripping in from the juncture of the landaulette roof. 
Some of it fell on the sleeper and he awoke with a start. 

"Damn " 

He stopped, as if caught in guilt, and began to apologise 
again. 

"Was I asleep? I really think I must have been. Stupid, 
isn't it? Excuse me." 

He blinked his eyes as if to empty them of sleep, looked me 
over for a moment or two in silence, and then said with a 
smile which made me shudder: 

"So you and I are man and wife, my dear!" 

I made no answer, and, still looking fixedly at me, he said : 

"Well, worse things might have happened after all what 
do you think?" 

Still I did not answer him, feeling a certain shame, not to 
say disgust. Then he began to pay me some compliments on 
my appearance. 

' ' Do you know you 're charming, my dear, really charming ! ' ' 

That stung me, and made me shudder, I don't know why, 
unless it was because the words gave me the sense of having 
been used before to other women. I turned my eyes away 
again. 

"Don't turn away, dear. Let me see those big black eyes 
of yours. I adore black eyes. They always pierce me like a 
gimlet. ' ' 

He reached forward as he spoke and drew me to him. I felt 
frightened and pushed him off. 

"What's this?" he said, as if surprised. 

But after another moment he laughed, and in the tone of a 
man who had had much to do with women and thought he 
knew how to deal with them, he said: 

"Wants to be coaxed, does she? They all do, bless them!" 

Saying this he pulled me closer to him, putting his arm 
about my waist, but once more I drew and forcibly pushed 
him from me. 

His face darkened for an instant, and then cleared again. 

"Oh, I see," he said. "Offended, is she? Paying me out 
for having paid so little court to her? Well, she's right there 
too, bless her! But never mind! You're a decidedly good- 
looking little woman, my dear, and if I have neglected you 
thus far, I intend to make up, for it during the honeymoon. 
So come, little gal, let's be friends." 

Taking hold of me again, he tried to kiss me, putting at the 

K 



146 THE WOMAN THOU GAYEST ME 

same time his hand on the bosom of my dress, but I twisted 
my face aside and prevented him. 

"Oh! Oh! Hurt her modesty, have I?" he said, laugh- 
ing like a man who was quite sure both of himself and of me. 
"But my little nun will get over that by and by. "Wait 
awhile! "Wait awhile!" 

By this time I was trembling with the shock of a terror that 
was entirely new to me. I could not explain to myself the 
nature of it, but it was there, and I could not escape from it. 

Hitherto, when I had thought of my marriage to Lord Raa 
I had been troubled by the absence of love between us; and 
what I meant to myself by love the love of husband and 
wife was the kind of feeling I had for the Reverend Mother, 
heightened and deepened and spiritualised, as I believed, by 
the fact (with all its mysterious significance) that the one was 
a man and the other a woman. 

But this was something quite different. Not having found 
in marriage what I had expected, I was finding something else, 
for there could be no mistaking my husband's meaning when 
he looked at me with his passionate eyes and said, ""Wait 
awhile!" 

I saw what was before me, and in fear of it I found myself 
wishing that something might happen to save me. I was so 
frightened that if I could have escaped from the car I should 
have done so. The only thing I could hope for was that we 
should arrive at Blackwater too late for the steamer, or that 
the storm would prevent it from sailing. "What relief from my 
situation I should find in that, beyond the delay of one day, 
one night (in which I imagined I might be allowed to return 
home), I did not know. But none the less on that account I 
began to watch the clouds with a feverish interest. 

They were wilder than ever now rolling up from the south- 
west in huge black whorls which enveloped the mountains and 
engulfed the valleys. The wind, too, was howling at intervals 
like a beast being slaughtered. It was terrible, but not so 
terrible as the thing I was thinking of. I was afraid of the 
storm, and yet I was fearfully, frightfully glad of it. 

My husband, who, after my repulse, had dropped back into 
his own corner of the car, was very angry. He talked again of 
our "God-forsaken island," and the folly of living in it, said 
our passage would be a long one in any case, and we might 
lose our connection to London. 



MY HONEYMOON 147 

"Damnably inconvenient if we do. I've special reasons for 
being there in the morning," he said. 

At a sharp turn of the road the wind smote the car as with 
an invisible wing. One of the windows was blown in, and to 
prevent the rain from driving on to us my husband had to 
hold up a cushion in the gap. 

This occupied him until we ran into Blackwater, and then 
he dropped the cushion and put his head out, although the 
rain was falling heavily, to catch the first glimpse of the 
water in the bay. 

It was in terrific turmoil. My heart leapt up at the sight 
of it. My husband swore. 

"VTe drew up on the drenched and naked pier. My husband's 
valet, in waterproofs, came to the sheltered side of the car, 
and, shouting above the noises of the wind in the rigging of 
the steamer, he said: 

"Captain will not sail to-day, my lord Inshore wind. 
Says he couldn't get safely out of the harbour." 

My husband swore violently. I was unused to oaths at that 
time and they cut me like whipcord, but all the same my 
pulse was bounding joyfully. 

"Bad luck, my lord, but only one thing to do now," shouted 
the valet. 

' ' "What 's that ? ' ' said my husband, growling. 

"Sleep in Blaekwater to-night, in hopes of weather mending 
in the morning." 

Anticipating this course, he had already engaged rooms for 
us at the "Fort George." 

My heart fell, and I waited for my husband's answer. I 
was stifling. 

"All right, Hobson. If it must be, it must," he answered. 

I wanted to speak, but I did not know what to say. There 
seemed to be nothing that I could say. 

A quarter of an hour afterwards we arrived at the hotel, 
where the proprietor, attended by the manageress and the 
waiters, received us with rather familiar smiles. 

THIRTY-FIFTH CHAPTER 

WHEN I began to write I determined to tell the truth and the 
whole truth. But now I find that the whole truth will require 
that I should invade some of the most sacred intimacies of 
human experience. At this moment I feel as if I were on the 



148 THE WOMAN THOU GAVEST ME 

threshold of one of the sanctuaries of a woman's life, and I 
ask myself if it is necessary and inevitable that I should 
enter it. 

I have concluded that it is necessary and inevitable 
necessary to the sequence of my narrative, inevitable for the 
motive with which I am writing it. 

Four times already I have written what is to follow. In 
the first case I found that I had said too much. In the second 
I had said too little. In the third I was startled and shocked 
by the portrait I had presented of myself and could not believe 
it to be true. In the fourth I saw with a thrill of the heart 
that the portrait was not only true, but too true. Let me try 
again. 

I entered our rooms at the hotel, my husband's room and 
mine, with^a sense of fear, almost of shame. My sensations 
at that moment had nothing in common with the warm flood of 
feeling which comes to a woman when she finds herself alone 
for the first time with the man she loves, in a little room which 
holds everything that is of any account to her in the world. 
They were rather those of a young girl who, walking with a 
candle through the dark corridors- of an empty house at night, 
is suddenly confronted by a strange face. I was the young 
girl with the candle ; the strange face was my husband 's. 

We had three rooms, all communicating, a sitting-room in 
the middle with bedrooms right and left. The bedroom on 
the right was large and it contained a huge bed with a covered 
top and tail-boards. That on the left was small, and it had a 
plain brass and iron bedstead, which had evidently been 
meant for a lady 's maid. I had no maid yet. It was intended 
that I should engage a French one in London. 

Almost immediately on entering the sitting-room my hus- 
band, who had not yet recovered from his disappointment, 
left me to go downstairs, saying with something like a growl 
that he had telegrams to send to London and instructions to 
give to his man Hobson. 

Without taking off my outer things I stepped up to the 
windows, which were encrusted with salt from the flying 
spray. The hotel stood on a rocky ledge above the harbour, 
and the sound of the sea, beating on the outer side of the pier, 
came up with a deafening roar. The red-funnelled steamer 
we should have sailed by lay on the pier's sheltered side, let- 



MY HONEYMOON 149 

ting down steam, swaying to her creaking hawsers, and heaving 
to the foam that was surging against her bow. 

I was so nervous, so flurried, so preoccupied by vague fears 
that I hardly saw or heard anything. Porters came up with 
our trunks and asked me where they were to place them, but I 
scarcely know how I answered them, although I was aware 
that everything both my husband's luggage and mine was 
being taken into the large bedroom. A maid asked if she 
ought to put a light to the fire, and I said "Yes ... no ... 
yes," and presently I heard the fire crackling. 

After awhile my husband came back in a better temper and 
said : 

"Confounded nuisance, but I suppose we must make the 
best of it." 

He laughed as he said this, and coming closer and looking 
me over with a smile which was at the same tune passionate 
and proud, he whispered: 

"Dare say we'll not find the tune long until to-morrow 
morning. What do you think, my little beauty?" 

Something in his voice rather than in his question made 
my heart beat, and I could feel my face growing hot. 

"Not taken off your things yet?" he said. "Come, let 
me help you." 

I drew out my hat-pins and removed my hat. At the 
same moment my husband removed my sables and cloak, and 
as he did so he put his arms about me, and held me close to 
him. 

I shuddered. I tried not to, but I could not help it. My 
husband laughed again, and said: 

"Not got over it yet, little woman? Perhaps that's only 
because you are not quite used to me." 

Still laughing he pulled me still closer to him and putting 
one of his hands under my chin he kissed me on the mouth. 

It will be difficult and perhaps it will be ridiculous to say 
kow my husband's first kiss shocked me. My mouth felt 
parched, I had a sense of intense disgust, and before I was 
quite aware of what I was doing I had put up both hands to 
push him off. 

"Come, come, this is going too far," he said, in a tone that 
was half playful, half serious. "It was all very well in the 
automobile; but here, in your own rooms, you know. . . ." 

He broke off and laughed again, saying that if my modesty 



150 THE WOMAN THOU GAYEST ME 

only meant that nobody had ever kissed me before it made me 
all the more charming for him. 

I could not help feeling a little ashamed of my embarrass- 
ment, and crossing in front of my husband I seated myself in 
a chair before the fire. He looked after me with a smile that 
made my heart tremble, and then, coming behind my chair, 
he put his arms about my shoulders and kissed my neck. 

A shiver ran through me. I felt as if I had suffered a kind 
of indecency. I got up and changed my place. My husband 
watched me with the look of a man who wanted to roar with 
laughter. It was the proud and insolent as well as passionate 
look of one who had never so much as contemplated resistance. 

"Well, this is funny," he said. "But we'll see presently! 
We'll see!" 

A waiter came in for orders, and early as it was my hus- 
band asked for dinner to be served immediately. My heart 
was fluttering excitedly by this tune and I was glad of the 
relief which the presence of other people gave me. 

While the table was being laid my husband talked of the 
doings of the day. He asked who was ' ' the seedy old priest ' ' 
who had given us "the sermon" at the wedding breakfast 
he had evidently forgotten that he had seen the Father before. 

I told him the "seedy old priest" was Father Dan, and he 
was a saint if ever there was one. 

"A saint, is he?" said my husband. "Wish saint were 
not synonymous with simpleton, though." 

Then he gave me his own views of "the holy state of 
matrimony." By holding people together who ought to be 
apart it often caused more misery and degradation of char- 
acter than a dozen entirely natural adulteries and desertions, 
which a man had sometimes to repair by marriage or else 
allow himself to be regarded as a seducer and a scoundrel. 

I do not think my husband was conscious of the naive 
coarseness of all this, as spoken to a young girl who had only 
just become his wife. I am sure he was not aware that he 
was betraying himself to me in every word he uttered and 
making the repugnance I had begun to feel for him deepen 
into horror. 

My palms became moist, and again and again I had to dry 
them with my handkerchief. I was feeling more frightened 
and more ashamed than I had ever felt before, but neverthe- 
less when we sat down to dinner I tried to compose myself. 
Partly for the sake of appearance before the servants, and 



MY HONEYMOON 151 

partly because I was taking myself to task for the repugnance 
I felt towards my husband, I found something to say, though 
my voice shook. 

My husband ate ravenously and drank a good deal. Once 
or twice, when he insisted on pouring out champagne for me, 
I clinked glasses with him. Although every moment at table 
was increasing my fear and disgust, I sometimes allowed my- 
self to laugh. 

Encouraged by this he renewed his endearments even before 
the waiters had left the room, and when they had gone, with 
orders not to return until he rang, and the door was closed 
behind them, he switched off the lights, pushed a sofa in 
front of the fire, put me to sit on it, sat down beside me and 
redoubled his tenderness. 

' ' How 's my demure little nun now ? " he said. ' ' Frightened, 
wasn't she? They're all frightened at first, bless them!" 

I could smell the liquor he had been drinking. I could see 
by the firelight the prominent front tooth (partly hidden by 
his moustache) which I had noticed when I saw him first, and 
the down of soft hair which grew as low on his hands as his 
knuckles. Above all I thought I could feel the atmosphere 
of other women about him loose women, bad women as it 
seemed to me and my fear and disgust began to be mixed 
with a kind of physical horror. 

For a little while I tried to fight against this feeling, but 
when he began to put his arms about me, calling me by en- 
dearing names, complaining of my coldness, telling me not to 
be afraid of him, reminding me that I belonged to him now, 
and must do as he wished, a faintness came over me, I 
trembled from head to foot and made some effort to rise. 

"Let me go," I said. 

"Nonsense," he said, laughing and holding me to my seat. 
"You bewitching little woman! You're only teasing me. 
How they love to tease, these charming little women!" 

The pupils of his eyes were glistening. I closed my own 
eyes in order to avoid his look. At the next moment I felt 
his hand stray down my body and in a fury of indignation I 
broke out of his arms and leapt to my feet. 

"When I recovered my self-possession I was again looking 
out of the window, and my husband, who was behind me, was 
saying in a tone of anger and annoyance: 

"What's the matter with you? I can't understand. What 



152 THE WOMAN THOU GAYEST ME 

have I done? Good heavens, we are man and wife, 
aren't we?" 

I made no answer. My heart which had been hot with rage 
was becoming cold with dread. It seemed to me that I had 
suffered an outrage on my natural modesty as a human being, 
a sort of offence against my dignity as a woman. 

It was now dark. "With my face to the window I could see 
nothing. The rain was beating against the glass. The sea 
was booming on the rocks. I wanted to fly, but I felt caged 
morally and physically caged. 

My husband had lit a cigarette and was walking up and 
down the sitting-room, apparently trying to think things out. 
After awhile he approached me, put his hand on my shoulder 
and said: 

"I see how it is. You're tired, and no wonder. You've 
had a long and exhausting day. Better go to bed. We'll 
have to be up early." 

Glad to escape from his presence I allowed him to lead me 
to the large bedroom. As I was crossing the threshold he 
told me to undress and get into bed, and after that he said 
something about waiting. Then he closed the door softly 
and I was alone. 

THIRTY-SIXTH CHAPTER 

THERE was a fire in the bedroom and I sat down in front 
of it. Many forces were warring within me. I was trying to 
fix my thoughts and found it difficult to do so. 

Some time passed. My husband's man came in with the 
noiseless step of all such persons, opened one of the portman- 
teaux and laid out his master's combs and brushes on the 
dressing table and his sleeping suit on the bed. A maid of the 
hotel followed him, and taking my own sleeping things out of 
the top tray of my trunk she laid them out beside my 
husband 's. 

"Good-night, my lady," they said in their low voices as 
they went out on tiptoe. 

I hardly heard them. My mind, at first numb, was now 
going at lightning speed. Brought face to face for the first 
time with one of the greatest facts of a woman's life I was 
asking myself why I had not reckoned with it before. 

I had not even thought of it. My whole soul had been 
so much occupied with one great spiritual issue that I did 



MY HONEYMOON 153 

not love my husband (as I understood love), that my husband 
did not love me that I had never once plainly confronted, 
even in my own mind, the physical fact that is the first 
condition of matrimony, and nobody had mentioned it to me 
or even hinted at it. 

I could not plead that I did not know of this condition. 
I was young but I was not a child. I had been brought up in 
a convent, but a convent is not a nursery. Then why had I 
not thought of it? 

While sitting before the fire, gathering together these dark 
thoughts, I was in such fear that I was always conscious of 
my husband's movements in the adjoining room. At one 
moment there was the jingling of his glass against the de- 
canter, at another moment the smell of his cigarette smoke. 
From time to time he came to the door and called to me in 
a sort of husky whisper, asking if I was in bed. 

"Don't keep me long, little girl." 

I shuddered but made no reply. 

At last he knocked softly and said he was coming in. I 
was still crouching over the fire as he came up behind me. 

' ' Not in bed yet ? " he said. ' ' Then I must put you to bed. ' ' 

Before I could prevent him he had lifted me in his arms, 
dragged me on to his knee and was pulling down my hair, 
laughing as he did so, calling me by coarse endearing names 
and telling me not to fight and struggle. 

But the next thing I knew I was back in the sitting-room, 
where I had switched up the lights, and my husband, whose 
face was distorted by passion, was blazing out at me. 

"What do you mean?" he said. "I'm your husband, 
am I not? You are my wife, aren't you? What did you 
marry for? Good heavens, can it be possible that you don't 
know what the conditions of matrimony are? Is that what 
comes of being brought up in a convent? But has your 
father allowed you to marry without. . . . And your Aunt 
what in God's name has the woman been doing?" 

I crossed towards the smaller bedroom intending to enter 
it, but my husband intercepted me. 

"Don't be a fool," he said, catching at my wrist. "Think 
of the servants. Think what they'd say. Think what the 
whole island would say. Do you want to make a laughing- 
stock of both of us?" 

I returned and sat by the table. My husband lit another 
cigarette. Nervously flicking the ends off with the index 



154 THE WOMAN THOU GAYEST ME 

finger of his left hand, and speaking quickly, as if the words 
scorched his lips, he told me I was mistaken if I supposed that 
he wanted a scene like this. He thought he could spend his 
time better. I was equally mistaken if I imagined that he had 
desired our marriage at all. Something quite different might 
have happened if he could have afforded to please himself. 

He had made sacrifices to marry me, too. Perhaps I 
had not thought of that, but did I suppose a man of his clas r ; 
wanted a person like my father for his father-in-law. And 
then my Aunt and my cousins ugh! 

The Bishop, too! Was it nothing that a man had been 
compelled to make all those ridiculous declarations ? Children 
to be brought up Catholics ! Wife not to be influenced ! 
Even to keep an open mind himself to all the muss and 
mummery of the Church! 

It wasn't over either. That seedy old "saint" was 
probably my confessor. Did any rational man want another 
man to come between him and his wife knowing all he did 
and said, and everything about him? 

I was heart-sick as I listened to all this. Apparently the 
moral of it was that if I had been allowed to marry without 
being instructed in the first conditions of married life my 
husband had suffered a gross and shocking injustice. 

The disgust I felt was choking me. It was horribly humili- 
ating and degrading to see my marriage from my husband's 
point of view, and when I remembered that I was bound fast 
to the man who talked to me like this, and that he could claim 
rights in me, to-night, to-morrow, as long as I lived, until 
death parted us, a wild impulse of impotent anger at every- 
body and everything made me drop my head on to the table 
and burst into tears. 

My husband misunderstood this, as he misunderstood every- 
thing. Taking my crying for the last remnant of my resist- 
ance he put his arms round my shoulders again and renewed 
his fondling. 

"Come, don't let us have any more conjugal scenes," he 
said. "The people of the hotel will hear us presently, and 
there will be all sorts of ridiculous rumours. If your family 
are rather common people you are a different pair of shoes 
altogether. ' ' 

He was laughing again, kissing my neck (in spite of my 
shuddering) and saying: 

"You really please me very much, you do indeed, and if 



MY HONEYMOON 155 

they've kept you in ignorance, what matter? Come now, 
my sweet little woman, we'll soon repair that." 

I could bear no more. I must speak and I did. Leaping 
up and facing round on him I told him my side of the 
story how I had been married against my will, and had not 
wanted him any more than he had wanted me; how all my 
objections had been overruled, all my compunctions borne 
down; how everybody had been in a conspiracy to compel 
me, and I had been bought and sold like a slave. 

"But you can't go any farther than that," I said. "Be- 
tween you, you have forced me to marry you, but nobody can 
force me to obey you, because I won 't. ' ' 

I saw his face grow paler and paler as I spoke, and when 
I had finished it was ash en- white. 

' ' So that 's how it is, is it ? " he said, and for some minutes 
more he tramped about the room, muttering inaudible words, 
as if trying to account to himself for my conduct. At length 
he approached me again and said, in the tone of one who 
thought he was making peace: 

"Look here, Mary. I think I understand you at last. You 
have some other attachment that's it, I suppose. Oh, don't 
think I 'm blaming you. I may be in the same case myself for 
all you know to the contrary. But circumstances have been 
too strong for us and here we are. "Well, we're in it, and 
we 've got to make the best of it and why shouldn 't we ? Lots 
of people in my class are in the same position, and yet they 
get along all right. Why can't we do the same? I'll not be 
too particular. Neither will you. For the rest of our lives 
let each of us go his and her own way. But that's no reason 
why we should be strangers exactly. Not on our wedding-day 
at all events. You're a damned pretty woman and I'm. . . . 
Well, I'm not an ogre, I suppose. We are man and wife, too. 
So look here, we won't expect too much affection from each 
other but let's stop this fooling and be good friends for a 
little while anyway. Come, now." 

Once more he took hold of me, as if to draw me back, kissing 
my hands as he did so, but his gross misinterpretation of my 
resistance and the immoral position he was putting me into 
were stifling me, and I cried: 

"No, I will not. Don't you see that I hate and loathe 
you?" 

There could be no mistaking me this time. The truth had 
fallen on my husband with a shock. I think it was the last 



156 THE WOMAN THOU GAVEST ME 

thing his pride had expected. His face became shockingly 
distorted. But after a moment, recovering himself with a 
cruel laugh that made my hot blood run cold, he said: 

"Nevertheless, you shall do as I wish. You are my wife, 
and as such you belong to me. The law allows me to compel 
you and I will." 

The words went shrieking through and through me. He 
was coming towards me with outstretched arms, his teeth set, 
and his pupils fixed. In the drunkenness of his rage he was 
laughing brutally. 

But all my fear had left me. I felt an almost murderous 
impulse. I wanted to strike him on the fa.ce. 

"If you attempt to touch me I will throw myself out of the 
window," I said. 

' ' No fear of that, ' ' he said, catching me quickly in his arms. 

' ' If you do not take your hands off me I '11 shriek the house 
down," I cried. 

That was enough. He let me go and dropped back from 
me. At the next moment I was breathing with a sense of 
freedom. "Without resistance on my husband's part I entered 
the little bedroom to the left and locked the door behind me. 

THIRTY-SEVENTH CHAPTER 

SOME further time passed. I sat by the fireless grate with 
my chin in my hand. If the storm outside was still raging 
I did not hear it. I was listening to the confused sounds 
that came from the sitting-room. 

My husband was pacing to and fro, muttering oaths, 
knocking against the furniture, breaking things. At one 
moment there was a crash of glass, as if he had helped himself 
to brandy and then in his ungovernable passion flung the 
decanter into the fire grate. 

Somebody knocked at the sitting-room. It must have 
been a waiter, for through the wall I heard the muffled sound 
of a voice asking if there had been an accident. My husband 
swore at the man and sent him off. Hadn't he told him not 
to come until he was rung for? 

At length, after half an hour perhaps, my husband knocked 
at the door of my little room. 

"Are you there?" he asked. 

I made no answer. 

"Open the door." 



MY HONEYMOON 157 

I sat motionless. 

"You needn't be afraid. I'm not going to do anything. 
I've something to say." 

Still I made no reply. My husband went away for a 
moment and then came back. 

"If you are determined not to open the door I must say 
what I've got to say from here. Are you listening?" 

Sitting painfully rigid I answered that I was. 

Then he told me that what I was doing would entitle him 
to annul our marriage in the eyes of the Church at all events. 

If he thought that threat would intimidate me he was 
mistaken a wave of secret joy coursed through me. 

"It won't matter much to me I'll take care it won't 
but it will be a degrading business for you invalidity and 
all that. Are you prepared for it?" 

I continued to sit silent and motionless. 

"I daresay we shall both be laughed at, but I cannot help 
that. We can't possibly live together on terms like these." 

Another wave of joy coursed through me. 

"Anyhow I intend to know before I leave the island how 
things are to be. I 'm not going to take you away until I get 
some satisfaction. You understand?" 

I listened, almost without breathing, but I did not reply. 

"I'm think of writing a letter to your father, and sending 
Hobson with it in the car immediately. Do you hear me?" 

"Yes." 

"Well, you know what your father is. Unless I'm much 
mistaken he's not a man to have much patience with your 
semi-romantic, semi-religious sentiments. Are you quite 
satisfied?" 

"Quite." 

"Very well! That's what I'll do, then." 

After this there was a period of quiet in which I assumed 
that my husband was writing his letter. Then I heard a bell 
ring somewhere in the corridor, and shortly afterwards there 
was a second voice in the sitting-room, but I could not hear 
the words that were spoken. I suppose it was Hobson 's low 
voice, for after another short interval of silence there came 
the thrum and throb of a motorcar and the rumble of india- 
rubber wheels on the wet gravel of the courtyard in front 
of the hotel. 

Then my husband knocked at my door again. 

"I've written that letter and Hobson is waiting to take it. 



158 

Your father will probably get it before he goes to bed. It 
will be a bad break on the festivities he was preparing for 
the village people. But you are still of the same mind, I 
suppose ? ' ' 

I did not speak, but I rose and went over to the window. 
For some reason difficult to explain, that reference to the 
festivities had cut me to the quick. 

My husband must have been fuming at my apparent in- 
difference, and I felt as if I could see him looking at me, 
passionate and proud. 

"Between the lot of you I think you've done me a great 
injustice. Have you nothing to say?" 

Even then I did not answer. 

"All right! As you please." 

A few minutes afterwards I heard the motor car turning 
and driving away. 

The wind had fallen, the waves were rolling into the 
harbour with that monotonous moan which is the sea 's 
memory of a storm, and a full moon, like a white-robed queen, 
was riding through a troubled sky. 

THIRTY-EIGHTH CHAPTER 

THE moon had died out; a new day had dawned; the sea 
was lying as quiet as a sleeping child; far out on the level 
horizon the sky was crimsoning before the rising sun, and 
clouds of white sea-gulls were swirling and jabbering above 
the rocks in the harbour below the house before I lay down 
to sleep. 

I was awakened by a hurried knocking at my door, and by 
an impatient voice crying: 

"Mary! Mary! Get up! Let me in!" 

It was Aunt Bridget who had arrived in my husband's 
automobile. When I opened the door to her she came sailing 
into the room with her new half-moon bonnet a little awry, 
as if she had put it on hurriedly in the dim light of early 
morning, and, looking at me with her cold grey eyes behind 
their gold-rimmed spectacles, she began to bombard me with 
mingled ridicule and indignant protest. 

"Goodness me, girl, what's all this fuss about? You 
little simpleton, tell me what has happened!" 

She was laughing. I had hardly ever heard Aunt Bridget 
laugh before. But her vexation soon got the better of her 
merriment. 



MY HONEYMOON 159 

"His lordship's letter arrived in the middle of the night 
and nearly frightened us out of our senses. Your father was 
for coming away straight, and it would have been worse for 
you if he had. But I said: 'No, this is work for a woman, 
I'll go,' and here I am. And now tell me, what in the 
name of goodness does this ridiculous trouble mean?" 

It was hard to say anything on such a subject under such 
circumstances, especially when so challenged, but Aunt 
Bridget, without waiting for my reply, proceeded to indicate 
the substance of my husband's letter. 

From this I gathered that he had chosen (probably to save 
his pride) to set down my resistance to ignorance of the first 
conditions of matrimony, and had charged my father first 
and Aunt Bridget afterwards with doing him a shocking 
injustice in permitting me to be married to him without tell- 
ing me what every girl who becomes a wife ought to know. 

"But, good gracious," said my Aunt Bridget, "who would 
have imagined you didn't know. I thought every girl in the 
world knew before she put up her hair and came out of short 
frocks. My Betsy did, I'm sure of that. And to think 
that you you whom we thought so cute, so cunning. . . . 
Mary O'Neill, I'm ashamed of you. I really, really am! 
Why, you goose" (Aunt Bridget was again trying to laugh), 
"how did you suppose the world went on?" 

The coarse ridicule of what was supposed to be my maidenly 
modesty cut me like a knife, but I could not permit myself 
to explain, so my Aunt Bridget ran on talking. 

"I see how it has been. It's the fault of that Reverend 
Mother at the convent. What sort of a woman is she? Is 
she a woman at all, I wonder, or only a piece of stucco that 
ought to be put up in a church corner! To think she could 
have you nine years and never say one word about. . . . Well, 
well! What has she been doing with you? Talking about 
the mysteries, I suppose prayers and retreats and novenas, 
and the spiritual bridegroom and the rest of it, while all the 
while. . . . But you must put the convent out of your head, 
my girl. You are a married woman now. You've got to 
think of your husband, and a husband isn 't a spiritual bride- 
groom I can tell you. He's flesh and blood, that's what a 
husband is, and you can't expect him to spend his time talk- 
ing about eternity and the rosary. Not on his wedding-day, 
anyway. ' ' 



160 THE WOMAN THOU GAYEST ME 

I was hot in my absurd embarrassment, and I dare say my 
face was scarlet, but Aunt Bridget showed me no mercy. 

"The way you have behaved is too silly for anything . . . 
It really is. A husband's a husband, and a wife's a wife. 
The wife has to obey her husband. Of course she has. Every 
wife has to. Some don't like it. I can't say that I liked it 
very much myself. But to think of anybody objecting. 
Why, it's shocking ! Nobody ever heard of such a thing." 

I must have flushed up to my forehead, for I became 
conscious that in my Aunt Bridget's eyes there had been a 
kind of indecency in my conduct. 

"But, come," she said, "we must be sensible. It's timid- 
ity, that's what it is. I was a little timid myself when I 
was first married, but I soon got over it. Once get over your 
timidity and you will be all right. Sakes alive, yes, you'll 
be as happy as the day is long, and before this time to-morrow 
you'll wonder what on earth you made all this fuss about." 

I tried to say that what she predicted could never be, 
because I did not love my husband, and therefore . . . but 
my Aunt Bridget broke in on me, saying: 

"Mary O'Neill, don't be a fool. Your maiden days are 
over now, and you ought to know what your husband will do 
if you persist." 

I jumped at the thought that she meant he would annul 
our marriage, but that was not what she was thinking of. 

"He'll find somebody else that's what he'll do. Serve 
you right, too. You'll only have yourself to blame for it. 
Perhaps you think you'll be able to do the same, but you 
won't. Women can't. He'll be happy enough, and you'll 
be the only one to suffer, so don't make a fool of yourself. 
Accept the situation. You may not like your husband too 
much. I can't say I liked the Colonel particularly. He took 
snuff, and no woman in the world could keep him in clean 
pocket handkerchiefs. But when a sensible person has got 
something at stake, she puts up with things. And that's 
what you must do. He who wants fresh eggs must raise his 
own chickens, you know." 

Aunt Bridget ran on for some time longer, telling me of 
my father's anger, which was not a matter for much surprise, 
seeing how he had built himself upon my marriage, and how 
he had expected that I should have a child, a son, to carry 
on the family. 

"Do you mean lo disappoint him after all he has done for 



MY HONEYMOON 161 

you? It would be too silly, too stupid. You'd be the 
laughing-stock of the whole island. So get up and get 
dressed and be ready and willing to go with his lordship 
when he sails by this afternoon's steamer." 

"I can't," I said. 

"You can't? You mean you won't?" 

"Very well, Auntie, I won't." 

At that Aunt Bridget stormed at me for several minutes, 
telling me that if my stubborn determination not to leave 
the island with my husband meant that I intended to return 
home she might inform me at once that I was not wanted 
there and I need not come. 

"I've enough on my hands in that house already, what 
with Betsy unmarried, and your father doing nothing for her, 
and that nasty Nessy MacLeod making up to him. You 
ungrateful minx ! You are ruining everything ! After all I 've 
done for you too ! But no matter ! If you will make your bed 
I shall take care that you lie on it." 

With that, and the peak of her half-moon bonnet almost 
dancing over her angry face, Aunt Bridget flounced out of my 
room. 

Half an hour afterwards, when I went into the sitting- 
room, I found my father's advocate, Mr. Curphy, waiting for 
me. He looked down at me with an indulgent and significant 
smile, which brought the colour rushing back to my face, put 
me to sit by his side, touched my arm with one of his large 
white clammy hands, stroked his long brown beard with the 
other, and then in the half-reproving tone which a Sunday- 
school teacher might have used to a wayward child, he began 
to tell me what the consequences would be if I persisted in 
my present conduct. 

They would be serious. The law was very clear on marital 
rights. If a wife refused to live with her husband, except on 
a plea of cruelty or something equally plausible, he could 
apply to the court and compel her to do so ; and if she declined, 
if she removed herself from his abode, or having removed, 
refused to return, the Court might punish her it might even 
imprison her. 

"So you see, the man is the top dog in a case like this, my 
dear, and he can compel the woman to obey him." 

"Do you mean," I said, "that he can use force to compel 
her?" 

"Reasonable force, yes. I think that's so. And quite right, 

L 



162 THE WOMAN THOU GAVEST ME 

too, when you come to think of it. The woman has entered 
into a serious contract, and it is the duty of the law to see 
that she fulfills the conditions of it. ' ' 

I remembered how little I had known of the conditions of 
the contract I had entered into, but I was too heart-sick and 
ashamed to say anything about that. 

"Aw yes, that's so/' said the advocate, "force, reasonable 
force! You may say it puts a woman in a worse position as 
a wife than she would be if she were a mistress. That 's true, 
but it's the law, and once a woman has married a man, 
the only escape from this condition of submission is im- 
prisonment. ' ' 

"Then I would rather that a thousand times rather," I 
said, for I was hot with anger and indignation. 

Again the advocate smiled indulgently, patted my arm, and 
answered me as if I were a child. 

"Tut, tut, my dear, tut, tut! You've made a marriage 
that is founded on suitability of position, property and 
education, and everything will come right by and by. Don't 
act on a fit of pique or spleen, and so destroy your happiness, 
and that of everybody about you. Think of your father. 
Remember what he has done to make this marriage. ... I 
may tell you that he has paid forty thousand pounds to dis- 
charge your husband's debts and undertaken responsibility 
for an allowance of six thousand a year beside. Do you 
want him to lose all that money?" 

I was so sick with disgust at hearing this that I could 
not speak, and the advocate, who, in his different way, was 
as dead to my real feelings as my husband had been, went 
on to say: 

"Come, be reasonable. You may have suffered some slight, 
some indignity. No doubt you have. Your husband is proud 
and he has peculiarities of temper which we have all to 
make allowances for. But even if you could establish a 
charge of cruelty against him and so secure a separation 
which you can't what good would that do you? None at 
all worse than none! The financial arrangements would 
remain the same. Your father would be a frightful loser. 
And what would you be? A married widow! The worst 
condition in the world for a woman especially if she is 
young and attractive, and subject to temptations. Ask any- 
body who knows anybody." 

I felt as if I would suffocate with shame. 



MY HONEYMOON 163 

"Come now," said the advocate in his superior way, taking 
my hand as if he were going to lead me like a child to my 
husband, "let us put an end to this little trouble. His lord- 
ship is downstairs and he has consented kindly and gener- 
ously consented to wait an hour for your answer. But he 
must leave the island by the afternoon steamer, and if ..." 

"Then tell him he must leave it without me," I said, as 
well as I could for the anger that was choking me. 

The advocate looked steadily into my face. I think he 
understood the situation at last. 

"You mean that really and truly mean it?" he asked. 

"I do," I answered, and unable to say or hear any more 
without breaking out on him altogether I left the room. 

THIRTY-NINTH CHAPTER 

DOWN to this moment I had put on a brave front though 
my very heart had been trembling ; but now I felt that all the 
weight of law, custom, parental authority and even religion 
was bearing me down, down, down, and unless help came I 
must submit in the long run. 

I was back in the small bedroom, with my hot forehead 
against the cold glass of the window, looking out yet seeing 
nothing, when somebody knocked at the door, softly almost 
timidly. It was Father Dan, and the sight of his dear face, 
broken up with emotion, was the same to me as the last plank 
of a foundering ship to a sailor drowning at sea. 

My heart was so full that, though I knew I ought not, I 
threw my arms about his neck and burst into a flood of tears. 
The good old priest did not put me away. He smoothed my 
drooping head and patted my shoulders and in his sweet and 
simple way he tried to comfort me. 

"Don't cry! Don't worry! It will be all right in the 
end, my child." 

There was something almost grotesque in his appearance. 
Under his soft clerical outdoor hat he was wearing his faded 
old cassock, as if he had come away hurriedly at a sudden 
call. I could see what had happened my family had sent 
him to reprove me and remonstrate with me. 

He sat on a chair by my bed and I knelt on the floor at 
his feet, just as my mother used to do when I was a child and 
she was making her confession. Perhaps he thought of that 
at the same moment as myself, for the golden light of my 



164 THE WOMAN THOU GAVEST ME 

mother's memory lay always about him. For some moments 
we did not speak. I think we were both weeping. 

At length I tried to tell him what had happened hiding 
nothing, softening nothing, speaking the simple and naked 
truth. I found it impossible to do so. My odd-sounding 
voice was not like my own, and even my words seemed to be 
somebody else's. But Father Dan understood everything. 

"I know! I know!" he said, and then, to my great relief, 
interrupting my halting explanations, he gave his own inter- 
pretation of my husband's letter. 

There was a higher love and there was a lower love and 
both were necessary to God's plans and purposes. But the 
higher love must come first, or else the lower one would 
seem to be cruel and gross and against nature. 

Nature was kind to a young girl. Left to itself it awakened 
her sex very gently. First with love, which came to her like 
a whisper in a dream, like the touch of an angel on her 
sleeping eyelids, so that when she awoke to the laws of life 
the mysteries of sex did not startle or appal her. 

But sex in me had been awakened rudely and ruthlessly. 
Married without love I had been suddenly confronted by the 
lower passion. "What wonder that I had found it brutal and 
barbarous ? 

"That's it, my child! That's it! I know! I know!" 

Then he began to blame himself for everything, saying it 
was all his fault and that he should have held out longer. 
When he saw how things stood between me and my husband he 
should have said to my father, to the Bishop, and to the 
lawyers, notwithstanding all their bargainings: "This mar- 
riage must not go on. It will lead to disaster. It begins to 
end badly." 

"But now it is all over, my child, and there's no help 
for it." 

'I think the real strength of my resistance to Aunt Bridget's 
coarse ridicule and the advocate's callous remonstrance must 
have been the memory of my husband 's threat when he talked 
about the possible annulment of our marriage. The thought 
of that came back to me now, and half afraid, half ashamed, 
with a fluttering of the heart, I tried to mention it. 

' ' Is there no way out ? " I asked. 

"What way can there be?" said Father Dan. "God knows 
I know what pressure was put upon you ; but you are married, 
you have made your vows, you have given your promises. 



MY HONEYMOON 165 

That's all the world sees or cares about, and in the eyes of 
the law and the Church you are responsible for all that has 
happened." 

With my head still buried in Father Dan's cassock I got 
it out at last. 

"But annulment! Isn't that possible under the circum- 
stances?" I asked. 

The good old priest seemed to be too confused to speak for 
a moment. Then he explained that what I hoped for was 
quite out of the question. 

"I don't say that in the history of the Church marriages 
have not been annulled on equally uncertain grounds, but in 
this case the civil law would require proof something to 
justify nullity. Failing that there would have to be collusion 
either on one side or both, and that is not possible not to 
you, my child, not to the daughter of your mother, that dear 
saint who suffered so long and was silent." 

More than ever now I felt like a ship-broken man with 
the last plank sinking under him. The cold mysterious dread 
of my husband was creeping back, and the future of my life 
with him stood before me with startling vividness. In spite 
of all my struggling and fighting of the night before I saw 
myself that very night, the next night, and the next, and 
every night and day of my life thereafter, a victim of the 
same sickening terror. 

"Must I submit, then?" I said. 

Father Dan smoothed my head and told me in his soft voice 
that submission was the lot of all women. It always had 
been so in the history of the world, and perhaps it always 
would be. 

"Remember the Epistle we read in church yesterday morn- 
ing: 'Wives submit yourselves to your husbands.' ' 

With a choking sensation in my throat I asked if he thought 
I ought to go away with my husband when he left the island 
by the afternoon steamer. 

"I see no escape from it, my poor child. They sent me to 
reprove you. I can't do that, but neither can I encourage 
you to resist. It would be wrong. It would be cruel. It 
would only lead you into further trouble." 

My mouth felt parched, but I contrived to say : 

"Then you can hold out no hope for me?" 

"God knows I can't." 

"Although I do not love this man I must live with him as 
his wife?" 



166 

"It is hard, very hard, but there seems to be no help for it." 

I rose to my feet, and -went back to the window. A wild 
impulse of rebellion was coming over me. 

"I shall feel like a bad woman," I said. 

"Don't say that," said Father Dan. "You are married 
to the man anyway." 

"All the same I shall feel like my husband's mistress 
his married mistress, his harlot." 

Father Dan was shocked, and the moment the words were 
out of my mouth I was more frightened than I had ever been 
before, for something within seemed to have forced them out 
of me. 

When I recovered possession of my senses Father Dan, 
nervously fumbling with the silver cross that hung over his 
cassock, was talking of the supernatural effect of the sacra- 
ment of marriage. It was God Who joined people together, 
and whom God joined together no man might put asunder. 
No circumstances either, no trial or tribulation. Could it be 
thought that a bond so sacred, so indissoluble, was ever made 
without good effect? No, the Almighty had His own ways 
with His children, and this great mystery of holy wedlock 
was one of them. 

"So don't lose heart, my child. Who knows what may 
happen yet? God works miracles now just as He did in the 
old days. You may come . . . yes, you may come to love 
your husband, and then then all will be well." 

Suddenly out of my despair and my defiance a new thought 
came to me. It came with the memory of the emotion I had 
experienced during the marriage service, and it thrilled me 
through and through. 

"Father Dan?" I said, with a nervous cry, for my heart 
was fluttering again. 

"What is it, my child?" 

It was hard to say what I was thinking about, but with a 
great effort I stammered it out at last. I should be willing 
to leave the island with my husband, and live under the same 
roof with him, and bear his name, so that there might be no 
trouble, or scandal, and nobody except ourselves might ever 
know that there was anything dividing us, any difference of 
any kind between us, if he, on his part, would promise firmly 
and faithfully promise that unless and until I came to love 
him he would never claim my submission as a wife. 

While I spoke I hardly dared to look at Father Dan, fearing 



MY HONEYMOON 167 

he weuld shake his head again, perhaps reprove me, perhaps 
laugh at me. But his eyes which had been moist began to 
sparkle and smile. 

'You mean that?" he asked. 

'Yes." 

'And you will go away with him on that condition?*' 

'Yes, yes." 

'Then he must agree to it." 

The pure-minded old priest saw no difficulties, no dangers, 
no risks of breakdown in my girlish scheme. Already my 
husband had got all he had bargained for. He had got my 
father's money in exchange for his noble name, and if he 
wanted more, if he wanted the love of his wife, let him earn 
it, let him win it. 

"That's only right, only fair. It will be worth winning, 
too better worth winning than all your father's gold and 
silver ten times over. I can tell him that much anyway." 

He had risen to his feet in his excitement, the simple old 
priest with his pure heart and his beautiful faith in me. 

"And you, my child, you'll try to love him in return 
promise you will." 

A shiver ran through me when Father Dan said that 
a sense of the repugnance I felt for my husband almost 
stifled me. 

"Promise me," said Father Dan, and though my face must 
have been scarlet, I promised him 

"That's right. That alone will make him a better man. 
He may be all that people say, but who can measure the 
miraculous influence of a good woman T" 

He was making for the door. 

"I must go downstairs now and speak to your husband. 
But hell agree. "Why shouldn't he? I know he's afraid of 
a public scandal, and if he attempts to refuse I'll tell him 
that . . . But no, that will be quite unnecessary. Good-bye, 
my child ! If I don 't come back you 11 know that everything 
has been settled satisfactorily. You 11 be happy yet. I'm 
sure you will. Ah, what did I say about the mysterious power 
of that solemn and sacred sacrament? Good-bye!" 

I meant what I had said. I meant to do what I had 
promised. God knows I did. But does a woman ever know 
her own heart ? Or is heaven alone the judge of it ? 

At four o'clock that afternoon my husband left Elian for 
England. I went with him. 



168 THE WOMAN THOU GAVEST ME 

FORTIETH CHAPTER 

HAVING made my bargain I set myself to fulfil the conditions 
of it. I had faithfully promised to try to love my husband 
and I prepared to do so. 

Did not love require that a wife should look up to and 
respect and even reverence the man she had married? I 
made up my mind to do that by shutting my eyes to my 
husband's obvious faults and seeing only his better qualities. 

What disappointments were in store for me ! What crush- 
ing and humiliating disillusionments ! 

On the night of our arrival in London we put up at a 
fashionable hotel in a quiet but well-known part of the West- 
end, which is inhabited chiefly by consulting physicians and 
celebrated surgeons. Here, to my surprise, we were imme- 
diately discovered, and lines of visitors waited upon my hus- 
band the following morning. 

I thought they were his friends, and a ridiculous little spurt 
of pride came to me from heaven knows where with the idea 
that my husband must be a man of some importance in the 
metropolis. 

But I discovered they were his creditors, money-lenders 
and bookmakers, to whom he owed debts of "honour" which 
he had been unable or unwilling to disclose to my father and 
his advocate. 

One of my husband's visitors was a pertinacious little man 
who came early and stayed late. He was a solicitor, and my 
husband was obviously in some fear of him. The interviews 
between them, while they were closeted together morning 
after morning in one of our two sitting-rooms, were long and 
apparently unpleasant, for more than once I caught the sound 
of angry words on both sides, with oaths and heavy blows 
upon the table. 

But towards the end of the week, my husband's lawyer 
arrived in London, and after that the conversations became 
more pacific. 

One morning, as I sat writing a letter in the adjoining room, 
I heard laughter, the popping of corks, the jingling of glasses, 
and the drinking of healths, and I judged that the difficult 
and disagreeable business had been concluded. 

At the close of the interview I heard the door opened and 
my husband going into the outer corridor to see his visitors 
to the lift, and then something prompted me God alone 
knows what to step into the room they had just vacated. 



MY HONEYMOON 169 

It was thick with tobacco smoke. An empty bottle of 
champagne (with three empty wine glasses) was on the table, 
and on a desk by the window were various papers, including 
a sheet of foolscap which bore a seal and several signatures, 
and a thick packet of old letters bound together with a piece 
of purple ribbon. 

Hardly had I had time to recognise these documents when 
my husband returned to the room, and by the dark expression 
of his face I saw instantly that he thought I had looked at 
them. 

"No matter!" he said, without any preamble. "I might 
as well tell you at once and have done with it." 

He told me. The letters were his. They had been written 
to a woman whom he had promised to marry, and he had had 
to buy them back from her. Although for three years he had 
spent a fortune on the creature she had shown him no mercy. 
Through her solicitor, who was a scoundrel, she had threat- 
ened him, saying in plain words that if he married anybody 
else she would take proceedings against him immediately. 
That was why, in spite of the storm, we had to come up to 
London on the day after our wedding. 

"Now you know," said my husband. "Look here" (hold- 
ing out the sheet of foolscap), "five thousand pounds that's 
the price I've had to pay for marrying." 

I can give no idea of the proud imperiousness and the im- 
pression of injury with which my husband told his brutal 
story. But neither can I convey a sense of the crushing shame 
with which I listened to it. There was not a hint of any con- 
sciousness on his part of my side of the case. Not a suggestion 
of the clear fact that the woman he had promised to marry had 
been paid off by money which had come through me. Not a 
thought of the humiliation he had imposed upon his wife in 
dragging her up to London at the demand of his cast-off 
mistress. 

"When my husband had finished speaking I could not utter 
a word. I was afraid that my voice would betray the anger 
that was boiling in me. But I was also degraded to the very 
dust in my own eyes, and to prevent an outburst of hysterical 
tears I ran back to my room and hid my face in my pillow. 

What was the good of trying to make myself in love with a 
man who was separated from me by a moral chasm that could 
never be passed 1 What was the good ? What was the good ? 



170 THE WOMAN THOU GAYEST ME 

FORTY-FIRST CHAPTER 

Bur next morning, having had time to think things out in 
my simple and ignorant way, I tried to reconcile myself to 
my position. Remembering what Aunt Bridget had said, 
both before my marriage and after it, about the different 
moralities of men and women, I told myself I had placed 
my standard too high. 

Perhaps a husband was not a superior being, to be regarded 
with respect and reverence, but a sort of grown-up child whom 
it was the duty of a wife to comfort, coax, submit to and serve. 

I determined to do this. Still clinging to the hope of falling 
in love with my husband, I set myself to please him by every 
means within my power, even to the length of simulating 
sentiments which I did not feel. 

But what a task I was setting myself! What a steep and 
stony Calvary I was attempting to climb! 

After the degrading business with the other woman had 
been concluded I thought we should have left England imme- 
diately on the honeymoon tour which my husband had mapped 
out for us, but he told me that would not be convenient and 
we must remain in London a little longer. We stayed six 
weeks altogether, and never did a young wife pass a more 
cheerless and weary time. 

I had no friends of my own within reach, and to my deep 
if secret mortification no woman of my husband 's circle called 
upon me. But a few of his male friends were constantly with 
us, including Mr. Eastcliff, who had speedily followed us from 
Elian, and a Mr. Vivian, who, though the brother of a Cabinet 
Minister, seemed to me a very vain and vapid person, with 
the eyes of a mole, a vacant smile, a stupid expression, an 
abrupt way of speaking through his teeth, and a shrill voice 
which gave the impression of screeching against the wind. 

With these two men, and others of a similar kind, we passed 
many hours of nearly every day, lunching with them, dining 
with them, walking with them, driving with them, and above 
all playing bridge with them in one of our sitting rooms in 
the hotel. 

I knew nothing of the game to begin with, never having 
touched a card in my life, but in accordance with the theories 
which I believed to be right and the duties I had imposed 
upon myself, I took a hand with my husband when he could 
find nobody better to be his partner. 

The results were very disheartening. In spite of my desire 



MY HONEYMOON 171 

to please I was slow to learn, and my husband's impatience 
with my mistakes, which confused and intimidated me, led to 
some painful humiliations. First he laughed, next he sneered, 
then he snapped me up in the midst of my explanations and 
apologies, and finally, at a moment of loss, he broke out on me 
with brutal derision, saying he had never had much opinion of 
my intellect, but was now quite sure that I had no more brains 
than a rabbit and could not say Boo to a goose. 

One day when we were alone, and he was lying on the 
couch with his vicious little terrier by his side, I offered to 
sing to him. Remembering how my voice had been praised, 
I thought it would be pleasant to my husband to see that 
there was something I really could do. But nine years in 
a convent had left me with next to no music but memories 
of the long-breathed harmonies of some of the beautiful 
masses of our Church, and hardly had I begun on these when 
my husband cried: 

"Oh, stop, stop, for heaven's sake stop, or I shall think 
we're attending a funeral." 

Another day I offered to read to him. The Reverend Mother 
used to say I was the best reader she had ever heard, but 
perhaps it was not altogether my husband 's fault if he formed 
a different opinion. And indeed I cannot but think that the 
holy saints themselves would have laughed if they had heard 
me reading aloud, in the voice and intonation which I had 
assumed for the meditations of St. Francis of Assisi, the 
mystic allusions to "certs," and "bookies," and "punters," 
and ' ' evens, ' ' and ' ' scratchings, ' ' which formed the substance 
of the sporting journals that were my husband's only liter- 
ature. 

"Oh, stop it, stop it," he cried again. "You read the 
'Winning Post' as if it were the Book of Revelation." 

As time passed the gulf that separated me from my husband 
became still greater. If I could have entertained him with 
any kind of gossip we might have got on better. But I had 
no conversation that interested him, and he had little or none 
that I could pretend to understand. He loved the town ; I 
loved the country ; he loved the night and the blaze of electric 
lights ; I loved the morning and the sweetness of the sun. 

At the bottom of my heart I knew that his mind was com- 
mon, low and narrow, and that his tastes were gross and vul- 
gar, but I was determined to conquer the rep*olsion I felt for 
him. 



172 THE WOMAN THOU GAVEST ME 

It was impossible. If I could have struck one spark from 
the flint of his heart the relations between us might have 
been different. If his look could have met my look in a single 
glance of understanding I could have borne with his im- 
patience and struggled on. 

But nothing of this kind ever happened, and when one 
dreary night after grumbling at the servants, cursing his fate 
and abusing everybody and everything, he put on his hat and 
went out saying he had "better have married Lena [the other 
woman] after all," for in that case he would have had "some 
sort of society anyway, ' ' the revulsion I had felt on the night 
of my marriage came sweeping over me like a wave of the 
sea, and I asked myself again, "What's the good? What's 
the good?" 

FORTY-SECOND CHAPTER 

NEVERTHELESS next day I found myself taking my husband's 
side against myself. 

If he had sacrificed anything in order to marry me it was 
my duty to make it up to him. 

I resolved that I should make it up to him. I would study 
my husband 's likes and dislikes in every little thing. I would 
share in his pleasures and enter into his life. I would show 
him that a wife was something other and better than any 
hired woman in the world, and that when she cast in her lot 
with her husband it was for his own sake only and not for 
any fortune he could spend on her. 

"Yes, yes, that's what I'll do," I thought, and I became 
more solicitous of my husband 's happiness than if I had really 
and truly loved him. 

A woman would smile at the efforts which I made in my 
inexperience to make my husband forget his cast-off mistress, 
and indeed some of them were very childish. 

The first was a ridiculous failure. 

My husband's birthday was approaching and I wished to 
make him a present. It was difficult to know what to select, 
for I knew little or nothing of his tastes or wants ; but walking 
one day in a street off Oxford Street I saw, in the window of 
a shop for the sale of objects of ecclesiastical vertu, among 
crosses and crucifixes and rosaries, a little ivory ink-stand and 
paper-holder, which was surmounted by a figure of the Virgin. 

I cannot for the life of me conceive why I thought this 
would be a suitable present for my husband, except that the 
face of Our Lady was so young, so sweet, so beautiful, and so 



MY HONEYMOON 173 

exquisitely feminine that it seemed impossible that any man 
in the world should not love her. But however that might be 
I bought her, and carrying her home in a cab, I set her on my 
husband's desk without a word, and then stood by, like the 
mother of Moses, to watch the result. 

There was no result at first at all events. My husband 
was several hours in the room with my treasure without 
appearing to be aware of its presence. But towards evening 
his two principal friends came to play bridge with him, and 
then, from the ambush of my own apartments, I heard the - 
screechy voice of Mr. Vivian saying: 

"Dash it all, Jimmy, you don't say you're going to be a 
Pape?" 

"Don't fret yourself, old fellow," replied my husband. 
"That's my wife's little flutter. Dare say the poor fool has 
had to promise her priest to make me a 'vert.' ' 

My next experiment was perhaps equally childish but cer- 
tainly more successful. 

Seeing that my husband was fond of flowers, and was 
rarely without a rose in his buttonhole, I conceived the idea 
of filling his room with them in honour of his birthday. With 
this view I got up very early, before anybody in the hotel 
was stirring, and hurried off to Covent Garden, through the 
empty and echoing streets, while the air of London was fresh 
with the breath of morning and the big city within its 
high-built walls seemed to dream of the green fields beyond. 

I arrived at the busy and noisy square just as the waggons 
were rolling in from the country with huge crates of red and 
white roses, bright with the sunshine and sparkling with the 
dew. Then buying the largest and loveliest and costliest 
bunch of them (a great armful, as much as I could hold), 
I hurried back to the hotel and set them in vases and glasses 
in every part of my husband's room his desk, his sideboard, 
his mantelpiece, and above all his table, which a waiter was 
laying for breakfast until the whole place was like a bridal 
bower. 

"Ah, this is something like," I heard my husband say as 
he came out of his bedroom an hour or two afterwards with 
his vicious terrier at his heels. 

I heard no more until he had finished breakfast, and then, 
while drawing on his gloves for his morning walk, he said to 
the waiter, who was clearing the table. 

"Tell your manageress I am much obliged to her for the 



174 THE WOMAN THOU GAVEST ME 

charming flowers with which she has decorated my room 
this morning." 

"But it wasn't the manageress, my lord," said the waiter. 

"Then who was it?" 

"It was her . . . her ladyship," said the waiter. 

"0-oh!" said my husband in a softer, if more insinuating 
tone, and a few minutes afterwards he went out whistling. 

God knows that was small reward for the trouble I had 
taken, but I was so uplifted by the success of my experiment 
that I determined to go farther, and when towards evening of 
the same day a group of my husband's friends came to tell 
him that they had booked a box at a well-known musical 
comedy theatre, I begged to be permitted to join them. 

"Nonsense, my dear! Brompton Oratory would suit you 
better," said my husband, chucking me under the chin. 

But I persisted in my importunities, and at length Mr. 
Eastcliff said: 

"Let her come. Why shouldn 't she ? " 

"Very well," said my husband, pinching my cheek. "As 
you please. But if you don't like it don't blame me." 

It did not escape me that as a result of my change of front 
my husband had risen in his own esteem, and that he was 
behaving towards me as one who thought he had conquered 
my first repugnance, or perhaps triumphantly ridden over it. 
But in my simplicity I was so fixed in my determination to 
make my husband forget the loss of his mistress that I had 
no fear of his familiarities and no misgivings about his 
mistakes. 

All that was to come later, with a fresh access of revulsion 
and disgust. 

FORTY-THIRD CHAPTER 

I HAD seen enough of London by this time to know that the 
dresses which had been made for me at home were by no 
means the mode; but after I had put on the best-fitting of my 
simple quaker-like costumes with a string of the family pearls 
about my neck and another about my head, not all the teach- 
ing of the good women of the convent could prevent me from 
thinking that my husband and his friends would have no 
reason to be ashamed of me. 

We were a party of six in all, whereof I was the only 
woman, and we occupied a large box on the first tier near the 
stage, a position of prominence which caused me a certain 



MY HONEYMOON 175 

embarrassment, when, as happened at one moment of inde- 
finable misery, the opera glasses of the people in the dress- 
circle and stalls were turned in our direction. 

I cannot say that the theatre impressed me. Certainly the 
building itself did not do so, although it was beautifully 
decorated in white and gold, for I had seen the churches of 
Rome, and in my eyes they were much more gorgeous. 

Neither did the audience impress me, for though I had 
never before seen so many well-dressed people in one place, 
I thought too many of the men, when past middle life, seemed 
fat and overfed, and too many of the women, with their plump 
arms and bare shoulders, looked as if they thought of nothing 
but what to eat and what to put on. 

Nor did the performers impress me, for though when the 
curtain rose, disclosing the stage full of people, chiefly girls, 
in delicate and beautiful toilettes, I thought I had never 
before seen so many lovely and happy faces, after a while, 
when the faces fell into repose, I thought they were not really 
lovely and not really happy, but hard and strained and 
painful, as if life had been very cruel. 

And, above all, I was not impressed by the play, for I 
thought, in my ignorance of such productions, that I had 
never heard anything so frivolous and foolish, and more 
than once I found myself wondering whether my good nuns, 
if they could have been present, would not have concluded 
that the whole company had taken leave of their senses. 

There was, however, one thing which did impress me, and 
that was the leading actor. It was a woman, and when she 
first came on to the stage I thought I had never in my life 
seen anybody so beautiful, with her lovely soft round figure, 
her black eyes, her red lips, her pearly white teeth, and a 
smile so sunny that it had the effect of making everybody in 
the audience smile with her. 

But the strange thing was I could not account for it 
that after a few minutes I thought her extremely ugly and 
repellent, for her face seemed to be distorted by malice and 
envy and hatred and nearly every other bad passion. 

Nevertheless she was a general favourite, for not only was 
she applauded before she did anything, but everything she 
said, though it was sometimes very silly, was accompanied 
by a great deal of laughter, and everything she sang, though 
her voice was no great matter, was followed by a chorus of 
applause. 



176 THE WOMAN THOU GAVEST ME 

Seeing this, and feeling that her appearance had caused a 
flutter of interest in the box behind me, I laughed and 
applauded also, in accordance with the plan I had prepared 
for myself, of sharing my husband's pleasures and entering 
into his life, although at the bottom of my heart I really 
thought the joy was not very joyful or the mirth very merry. 

Thig went on for nearly an hour, and then a strange thing 
happened. I was leaning forward on the velvet barrier of the 
box in front of me, laughing and clapping my hands with the 
rest, when all at once I became aware that the lady had 
wheeled about, and, walking down the stage in the direction 
of our box, was looking boldly back at me. 

I could not at first believe it to be so, and even now I 
cannot say whether it was something in her face, or something 
whispered at my back which flashed it upon my mind that 
this was the woman my husband ought to have married, 
the woman whose place I had taken, the woman of the foolscap 
document and the letters in the purple ribbon. 

After that I could play my poor little part no longer, and 
though I continued to lean on the yellow velvet of the barrier 
in front of me I dropped my eyes as often as that woman 
was on the stage, and hoped and prayed for the end of the 
performance. 

It came at length with a crash of instruments and voices, 
and a few minutes afterwards my husband and I were in the 
cab on our way back to the hotel. 

I was choking with mingled anger and shame anger at 
my husband for permitting me to come to a place in which I 
could be exposed to a public affront from his cast-off mistress, 
shame at the memory of the pitiful scheme for entering 
into his life which had fallen to such a welter of wreck and 
ruin. 

But my husband himself was only choking with laughter. 

"It was as good as a play," he said. "Upon my soul it 
was! I never saw anything funnier in the whole course of 
my life." 

That served him, repeated again and again, until we reached 
the hotel, when he ordered a bottle of wine to be sent upstairs, 
and then shook with suppressed laughter as we went up in 
the lift. 

Coming to our floor I turned towards my bedroom, wishing 
to be alone with my outraged feelings, but my husband 
drew me into one of our sitting-rooms, telling me he had 
something to say. 



MY HONEYMOON 177 

He put me to sit in an arm-chair, threw off his overcoat, 
lit a cigarette, as well as he could for the spurts and gusts 
of his laughter, and then, standing back to the fire-place, 
with one hand in his pocket and his coat-tail over his arm. 
he told me the cause of his merriment. 

"I don't mind telling you that was Lena," he said. "The 
good-looking girl in the scarlet dress and the big diamonds. 
She spotted me the moment she stepped on to the stage. 
Must have guessed who you were, too. Did you see how 
she looked at you? Thought I had brought you there to 
walk over her. I'm sure she did!" 

There was another gust of laughter and then 

"She'd been going about saying I had married an old 
frump for the sake of her fortune, and when she saw that 
you could wipe her off the face of the earth without a gown 
that was worth wearing, she was ready to die with fury." 

There was another gust of laughter through the smoke that 
was spurting from his mouth and then 

"And you, too, my dear! Laughing and applauding! She 
thought you were trying to crow over her! On her own 
particular barn-door, too ! Upon my soul, it was too amusing. 
I wonder she didn't throw something at you. She's like that 
when she's in her tantrums." 

The waiter came in with the wine and my husband poured 
out a glass for me. 

"Have a drink. No? Well, here's to your health, my 
dear ... I can't get over it. I really can't. Lena's too 
funny for anything. "Why, what else do you think she's 
been saying? She's been saying I'll come back to her yet. 
Yes, 'I'll give him six months to come crawling back to me,' 
she said to Eastcliff and Vivian and some of the other fellows 
at the Club. Wonder if she thinks so now ? . . . I wonder ? ' ' 

He threw away his cigarette, drank another glass of the 
wine, came close up to me and said in a lower tone, which 
made my skin creep as with cold, 

"Whether she's right or wrong depends on you, though." 

"On me?" 

"Why, yes, of course. That's only natural. One may have 
all the goodwill in the world, but a man 's a man, you know. ' ' 

I felt my lips quivering with anger, and in an effort to con- 
trol myself I rose to go, but my husband drew me back into 
my chair and sat on the arm of it. 

"Don't go yet. By the way, dear, I've never thanked 
you for the beautiful flowers with which you decorated my 

M 



178 THE WOMAN THOU GAVEST ME 

room this morning. Charming! But I always knew you 
would soon come round to it." 

"Come round to what?" I said, but it was just as if some- 
body else were speaking. 

"You know. Of course you know. When that simple old 
priest proposed that ridiculous compact I agreed, but I knew 
quite well that it would soon break down. Not on my 
side, though. Why should it? A man can afford to wait. 
But I felt sure you would soon tire of your resistance. And 
you have, haven't you? Oh, I'm not blind. I've seen what's 
been going on, though I've said nothing about it." 

Again I tried to rise, and again my husband held me to 
my seat, saying: 

"Don't be ashamed. There's no reason for that. You 
were rather hard on me, you know, but I 'm going to forget all 
about it. Why shouldn't I? I've got the loveliest little 
woman in the world, so I mean to meet her half way, and 
she's going to get over her convent-bred ideas and be my 
dear little darling wife. Now isn't she?" 

I could have died of confusion and the utter degradation 
of shame. To think that my poor efforts to please him, 
my vain attempts to look up to him and reverence him, 
my bankrupt appeals to the spiritual woman in me that I 
might bring myself to love him, as I thought it was my duty 
to do, should have been perverted by his gross and vulgar 
mind into overtures to the animal man in him this was more 
than I could bear. I felt the tears gushing to my eyes, but I 
kept them back, for my self-pity was not so strong as my wrath. 

I rose this time without being aware of his resistance. 

"Let me go to bed," I said. 

"Certainly! Most certainly, my dear, but ..." 

"Let me go to bed," I said again, and at the next moment 
I stepped into my room. 

He did not attempt to follow me. I saw in a mirror in 
front what was taking place behind me. 

My husband was standing where I had left him with a 
look first of amazement and then of rage. 

"I can't understand you," he said. "Upon my soul I 
can't! There isn't a man in the world who could." 

After that he strode into his own bedroom and clashed the 
door after him. 

"Oh, what's the good?" I thought again. 

It was impossible to make myself in love with my husband. 
It was no use trying. 



MT HONEYMOON 179 

FORTY-FOURTH CHAPTER 

I MUST leave it to those who know better than I do the way 
to read the deep mysteries of a woman's heart, to explain 
how it came to pass that the only result of this incident was 
to make me sure that if we remained in London much longer 
my husband would go back to the other woman, and to say 
why (seeing that I did not love him) I should have become 
feverishly anxious to remove him from the range of this 
temptation. 

Yet so it was, for the very next morning, I wrote to my 
father saying I had been unwell and begging him to use his 
influence with my husband to set out on the Egyptian trip 
without further delay. 

My father's answer was prompt. "What he had read be- 
tween the lines of my letter I do not know; what he said 
was this 

' ' Daughter Certainly ! I am writing to son-in-law telling 
him to quit London quick. I guess you've been too long 
there already. And while you are away you can draw on 
me yourself for as much as you please, for where it is a 
matter of money you must never let nobody walk over you. 

Yours &c." 

The letter to my husband produced an immediate result. 
Within twenty-four hours, the telephone was at work with 
inquiries about trains and berths on steamers; and within 
a week we were on our way to Marseilles to join the ship 
that was to take us to Port Said. 

Our state-rooms were on the promenade deck of the 
steamer with a passage-way between them. This admitted of 
entirely separate existences, which was well, for knowing or 
guessing my share in our altered arrangements, my husband 
had become even more morose than before, and no conversa- 
tion could be sustained between us. 

He spent the greater part of his time in his state-room, 
grumbling at the steward, abusing his valet, beating his 
bad-tempered terrier and cursing the luck that had brought 
him on this senseless voyage. 

More than ever now I felt the gulf that divided us. I 
could not pass one single hour with him in comfort. My life 



180 THE WOMAN THOU GAVEST ME 

was becoming as cold as an empty house, and I was beginning 
to regret the eagerness with which I had removed my husband 
from a scene in which he had at least lived the life of a 
rational creature, when an unexpected event brought me a 
thrill of passing pleasure. 

Our seats in the saloon were at the top of the doctor's 
table, and the doctor himself was a young Irishman of three 
or four-and-twenty, as bright and breezy as a March morn- 
ing and as racy of the soil as new-cut peat. 

Hearing that I was from Elian he started me by asking 
if by chance I knew Martin Conrad. 

"Martin Conrad?" I repeated, feeling (I hardly knew 
why) as if a rosy veil were falling over my face and neck. 

"Yes, Mart Conrad, as we call him. The young man who 
has gone out as doctor with Lieutenant . . . . 's expedition 
to the South Pole?" 

A wave of tender feeling from my childhood came surging 
up to my throat and I said: 

' ' He was the first of my boy friends in fact the only one. ' ' 

The young doctor's eyes sparkled and he looked as if he 
wanted to throw down his soup-spoon, jump up, and grasp 
me by both hands. 

"God bless me, is that so?" he said. 

It turned out that Martin and he had been friends at 
Dublin University. They had worked together, "roomed" to- 
gether, and taken their degrees at the same time. 

' ' So you know Mart ? Lord alive, the way things come out ! " 

It was easy to see that Martin was not only his friend but 
his hero. He talked of him with a passionate love and 
admiration with which men, whatever they feel, rarely speak 
of each other. 

Martin was the salt of the earth. He was the finest fellow 
and the staunchest friend and the bravest-hearted chap that 
walked under the stars of God. 

"The greatest chum I have in the world, too, and by the 
Holy Immaculate Mother I'm destroyed at being away from 
him." 

It was like music to hear him speak. A flood of joy went 
sweeping through me at every word of praise he gave to 
Martin. And yet I cannot explain why, unless it was the 
woman in me, the Irish-woman, or something like it but I 
began to depreciate Martin, in order to "hoosh" him on, 
so that he might say more on the same subject. 



MY HONEYMOON 181 

"Then he did take his degree," I said. "He was never 
very clever at his lessons, I remember, and I heard that he 
was only just able to scrape through his examinations. ' ' 

The young doctor fell to my bait like a darling. With a 
flaming face and a nervous rush of racy words which made 
me think that if I closed my eyes I should be back on the 
steps of the church in Rome talking to Martin himself, he 
told me I was mistaken if I thought his friend was a num- 
skull, for he had had "the biggest brain-pan in College 
Green," and the way he could learn things when he wanted 
to was wonderful. 

He might be a bit shaky in his spelling, and perhaps he 
couldn't lick the world in Latin, but his heart was always 
in exploring, and the way he knew geography, especially the 
part of it they call the "Unknown," the Arctic, and the 
Antarctic, and what Charcot had done there, and Biscoe and 
Bellamy and D 'Urville and Greely and Nansen and Shackleton 
and Peary, was enough to make the provost and professors 
look like fools of the earth by the side of him. 

""Why, what do you think?" said the doctor. "When he 
went to London to apply for his billet, the Lieutenant said 
to him; 'You must have been down there before, young 
man.' 'No such luck,' said Martin. 'But you know as 
much about the Antarctic already as the whole boiling of us 
put together,' said the Lieutenant. Yes, by St. Patrick and 
St. Thomas, he's a geographer any way." 

I admitted that much, and to encourage the doctor to go 
on I told him where I had seen Martin last, and what he had 
said of his expedition. 

"In Borne you say?" said the doctor, with a note of 
jealousy. "You beat me there then. I saw him off from 
London, though. A few of us Dublin boys, being in town 
at the time, went down to Tilbury to see him sail, and when 
they were lifting anchor and the tug was hitching on, we stood 
on the pier sixteen strong and set up some of our college 
songs. 'Stop your noising, boys,' said he, 'the Lieutenant 
will be hearing you. ' But not a bit of it. We sang away as 
long as we could see him going out with the tide, and then 
we went back in the train, smoking our pipes like so many 
Vauxhall chimneys, and narra a word out of the one of us. 
. . . Yes, yes, there are some men like that. They come like 
the stars of night and go like the light of heaven. Same as 



182 THE WOMAN THOU GAYEST ME 

there are some women who walk the world like the sun, and 
leave the grass growing green wherever their feet have trod." 

It was very ridiculous, I did not then understand why it 
should be so, but the tears came gushing into my eyes while 
the doctor spoke, and it was as much as I could do to preserve 
my composure. 

What interpretation my husband put upon my emotion 
I do not know, but I saw that his face darkened, and when 
the doctor turned to him to ask if he also knew Martin he 
answered curtly and brusquely, 

"Not I. No loss either, I should say." 

"No loss?" said the doctor. "Show me the man under 
the stars of God that's fit to hold a candle to Martin Conrad, 
and by the angel Gabriel I'll go fifty miles out of my way 
to put a sight on him." 

More than ever after this talk about Martin Conrad I was 
feeling defenceless, and at the mercy of my husband's wishes 
and whims, when something happened which seemed to 
change his character altogether. 

The third day out, on a bright and quiet morning, we 
called at Malta, and while my husband went ashore to visit 
some friends in the garrison, I sat on deck watching the life 
of the little port and looking at the big warships anchored 
in the bay. 

A Maltese woman came on board to sell souvenirs of the 
island, and picking out of her tray a tiny twisted thing in 
coral, I asked what it was. 

"That's a charm, my lady," said the woman. 

"A charm for what?" 

"To* make my lady's husband love her." 

I felt my face becoming crimson, but my heart was sore, 
so in my simplicity I bought the charm and was smuggling 
it into my bag when I became aware that one of my fellow- 
passengers, a lady, was looking r'own at me. 

She was a tall, singularly handsome woman, fashionably 
and (although on shipboard) almost sumptuously dressed. 
A look in her face was haunting me with a memory I could 
not fix when she stooped and said: 

"Aren't you Mary O'Neill?" 

The voice completed the identification, and I knew who 
it was. It was Alma Lier. 

She was now about seven-and-twenty and in the prime 
of her young womanhood. Her beautiful auburn hair lay 



MY HONEYMOON 183 

low over her broad forehead, almost descending to her long 
sable-coloured eyebrows. Her cheeks were very white, 
(rather beyond the whiteness of nature, I thought), and her 
lips were more than commonly red, with the upper one a 
little thin and the lower slightly set forward. But her eyes 
were still her distinguishing feature, being larger and blacker 
than before and having that vivid gaze that looked through 
and through you and made you feel that few women and no 
man in the world would have the power to resist her. 

Her movements were almost noiseless, and as she sank into 
the chair by my side there was a certain over-sweetness in 
the soft succulent tones of the voice with which she began 
to tell me what had happened to her since I had seen her last. 

It was a rather painful story. After two or three years 
in a girls ' college in her own country she had set out with her 
mother for a long tour of the European capitals. In Berlin, 
at what was falsely called a Charity Ball, she had met a young 
Kussian Count who was understood to be rich and related to 
one of the Grand Ducal families. Against the protests of her 
father (a shrewd American banker), she had married the 
Count, and they had returned to New York, where her mother 
had social ambitions. 

There they had suffered a serious shock. It turned out 
that her husband had deceived them, and that he was really 
a poor and quite nameless person, only remotely related 
to the family he claimed to belong to. 

Nevertheless Alma had "won out" at last. By digging 
deep into her father's treasury she got rid of her treacherous 
husband, and going "way out west," she had been able, in 
due time, to divorce him. 

Since then she had resumed her family name, being known 
as Madame Lier, and now she was on her way to Egypt to 
spend the season at Cairo. 

"And you?" she said. "You stayed long at the convent 
yes?" 

I answered that I had, and then in my fluttering voice 
(for some of the old spell of her presence had come sweeping 
back upon me) I replied one by one to the questions she 
asked about the Reverend Mother, the "Reverend Mother 
Mildred," Sister Angela and Father Giovanni, not to speak 
of myself, whom she had always thought of as "Margaret 
Mary" because I had looked so innocent and nun-like. 

"And now you are married!" she said. "Married so 



. 184 THE WOMAN THOU GAVEST ME 

splendidly, too! We heard all about it. Mother was so 
interested. What a lucky girl you are! Everybody says 
your husband is so handsome and charming. He is, isn 't he ? " 

I was doing my utmost to put the best face upon my 
condition without betraying the facts or simulating senti- 
ments which I could not feel, when a boat from the shore 
pulled up at the ship's side, and my husband stepped on to 
the deck. 

In his usual morose manner he was about to pass without 
speaking on his way to his state-room, when his eyes fell on 
Alma sitting beside me. Then he stopped and looked at us, 
and, stepping up, he said, in a tone I had never heard from 
him before: 

' ' Mary, my dear, will you not present me to your friend ? ' ' 

I hesitated, and then with a quivering of the lips I did so. 
But something told me as I introduced my husband to Alma, 
and Alma to my husband, and they stood looking into each 
other's eyes and holding each other's hands (for Alma had 
risen and I was sitting between them), that this was the most 
momentous incident of my life thus far that for good or ill 
my hour had struck and I could almost hear the bell. 

FORTY-FIFTH CHAPTER 

FROM that hour forward my husband was a changed man. 
His manner to me, so brusque before, became courteous, kind, 
almost affectionate. Every morning he would knock at the 
door of my state-room to ask if I had slept well, or if the 
movement of the steamer had disturbed me. 

His manner to Alma was charming. He was up before 
breakfast every day, promenading the deck with her in the 
fresh salt air. I would slide back my window and hear their 
laughter as they passed, above the throb of the engines and 
the wash of the sea. Sometimes they would look in upon me 
and joke, and Alma would say: 

"And how's Margaret Mary this morning?" 

Our seats in the saloon had been changed. Now we sat with 
Alma at the Captain's table, and though I sorely missed the 
doctor's racy talk about Martin Conrad I was charmed by 
Alma's bright wit and the fund of her personal anecdotes. 
She seemed to know nearly everybody. My husband knew 
everybody also, and their conversation never flagged. 

Something of the wonderful and worshipful feeling I had 



MY HONEYMOON 185 

had for Alma at the Sacred Heart came back to me, and as 
for my husband it seemed to me that I was seeing him for the 
first time. 

He persuaded the Captain to give a dance on our last 
night at sea, so the awnings were spread, the electric lights 
were turned on, and the deck of the ship became a scene of 
enchantment. 

My husband and Alma led off. He danced beautifully and 
she was dressed to perfection. Not being a dancer myself I 
stood with the Captain in the darkness outside, looking in on 
them in the bright and dazzling circle, while the moon-rays 
were sweeping the waters like a silver fan and the little 
waves were beating the ship's side with friendly pats. 

I was almost happy. In my simplicity I was feeling grate- 
ful to Alma for having wrought this extraordinary change, so 
that when, on our arrival at Port Said, my husband said, 

"Your friend Madame Lier has made no arrangements 
for her rooms at Cairo hadn't I better telegraph to our 
hotel, dear?" I answered, "Yes," and wondered why he had 
asked me. 

Our hotel was an oriental building, situated on an island 
at the further side of the Nile. Formerly the palace of a 
dead Khedive, who had built it in honour of the visit of an 
Empress, it had a vast reception hall with a great staircase. 

There, with separated rooms, as in London, we remained 
for three months. I was enthralled. Too young and in- 
experienced to be conscious of the darker side of the picture 
before me, I found everything beautiful. I was seeing 
fashionable life for the first time, and it was entrancing. 

Lovely and richly-dressed ladies in silk, velvet, lace, and no 
limit of jewellery the dark French women, the blonde 
German women, the stately English women, and the Ameri- 
can women with their flexuous grace. And then the British 
soldiers in their various uniforms, the semi-Turks in their 
red tarbooshes, and the diplomats of all nationalities, Italian, 
Austrian, French, German what a cosmopolitan world it 
was, what a meeting-place of all nations! 

Every hour had its interest, but I liked best the hour of tea 
on the terrace, for that was the glorious hour of woman, when 
every condition invested her dress with added beauty and her 
smile with greater charm. 

Such a blaze of colour in the sunshine! Such a sea of 
muslin, flowers, and feathers! Such lovely female figures 



186 THE WOMAN THOU GAVEST ME 

in diaphanous clouds of toilettes, delicate as gossamer and 
varied as the colours in the rainbow! They were like a 
living bouquet, as they sat under the shade of the verandah, 
with the green lawns and the palm trees in front, the red- 
coated orchestra behind, and the noiseless forms of swarthy 
Bedouins and Nubians moving to and fro. 

Although I had been brought up in such a different world 
altogether I could not help being carried away by all this 
beauty. My senses burgeoned out and my heart seemed to 
expand. 

As for Alma and my husband, they seemed to belong to the 
scene of themselves. She would sit at one of the tea-tables, 
swishing away the buzzing flies with a little whip of cord and 
cowries, and making comments on the crowd in soft undertones 
which he alone seemed to catch. Her vivid and searching 
eyes, with their constant suggestion of laughter, seemed to 
be picking out absurdities on every side and finding nearly 
everybody funny. 

She found me funny also. My innocence and my convent- 
bred ideas were a constant subject of jest with her. 

"What does our dear little Margaret Mary think of that?" 
she would say with a significant smile, at sights that seemed 
to me quite harmless. 

After a while I began to have a feeling of indefinable un- 
easiness about Alma. She was daily redoubling her cordial- 
ity, always calling me her ' ' dearest sweetest girl, ' ' and ' ' the 
oldest friend she had in the world." But little by little I 
became conscious of a certain commerce between her and my 
husband in which I had no part. Sometimes I saw her eyes 
seeking his, and occasionally I heard them exchange a few 
words about me in French, which (because I did not speak it, 
being uncertain of my accent) they thought I did not under- 
stand. 

Perhaps this helped to sharpen my wits, for I began to see 
that I had gone the wrong way to work with my husband. 
Instead of trying to make myself fall in love with my husband, 
I should have tried to make my husband fall in love with me. 

When I asked myself how this was to be done I found one 
obvious answer I must become the sort of woman my hus- 
band admired and liked ; in short I must imitate Alma. 

I resolved to do this, and after all that has happened since 
I feel a little ashamed to tell of the efforts I made to play a 
part for which I was so ill-fitted by nature and education. 



MY HONEYMOON 187 

Some of them were silly enough perhaps, but some were 
almost pathetic, and I am not afraid that any good woman 
will laugh at the futile shifts I was put to, in my girlish 
ignorance, to make my husband love me. 

"I must do it," I thought. "I must, I must!" 

FORTY-SIXTH CHAPTER 

HITHERTO I had attended to myself, but now I determined 
to have a maid. I found one without much difficulty. Her 
name was Price. She was a very plain woman of thirty, 
with piercing black eyes ; and when I engaged her she seemed 
anxious above all else to make me understand that she "never 
saw anything." 

I soon discovered that she saw everything, especially the 
relations between myself and my husband, and that she put 
her own interpretation (not a very flattering one) on our 
separated apartments. She also saw the position, of Alma, 
and putting her own interpretation upon that also, she 
tortured me with many pin-pricks. 

Under the guidance of my maid I began to haunt the shops 
of the dressmakers, the milliners and the jewellers. It did 
not require the memory of my father's letter to make me 
spend his money I spent it like water. Feeling ashamed of 
my quaker-cut costumes (Alma had a costume for every day 
of the week, and wore a large gold snake on her arm), I 
bought the most costly toilettes, and loaded myself with 
bracelets, rings and necklaces. 

I was dressing for my husband, and for him I did many 
things I had never dreamt of doing before. For him I filed 
my nails, put cream on my skin, perfume on my handker- 
chief, and even rouge on my lips. Although I did not allow 
myself to think of it so, I was running a race with Alma. 

My maid knew that before I did, and the first night she 
put me into one of my uncomfortable new gowns she stood 
off from me and said : 

"His lordship must be a strange gentleman if he can 
resist you now." 

I felt ashamed, yet pleased too, and went downstairs with 
a certain confidence. 

The result was disappointing. My husband smiled rather 
condescendingly, and though Alma praised me beyond 
measure I saw that she was secretly laughing as she said : 



188 THE WOMAN THOU GAVEST ME 

"Our Margaret Mary is coming out, isn't she?" 

Nevertheless I persevered. Without too much prepara- 
tion for so perilous an enterprise, I threw myself into the 
gaieties of Cairo, attending polo matches, race-meetings, 
picnics at the Pyramids, dances at the different hotels, and on 
the island of Roda, where according to tradition, Pharaoh's 
daughter found Moses in the bulrushes. 

I think I may say that I drew the eyes of other men upon 
me, particularly those of the colonel commanding on the 
Citadel, a fine type of Scotsman, who paid me the most 
worshipful attention. But I thought of nobody but my hus- 
band, being determined to make him forget Alma and fall 
in love with me. 

It was a hopeless task, and I had some heart-breaking 
hours. One day, calling at a jeweller's to see a diamond 
necklace which I greatly coveted, I was told in confidence 
that my husband had been pricing it, but had had to give it 
up because it was a thousand francs too dear for him. I was 
foolish enough to pay the thousand francs myself, under a 
pledge of secrecy, and to tell the jeweller to send the necklace 
to my husband, feeling sure in my simplicity that it had been 
meant for me. 

Next night I saw it on Alma's neck, and could have died 
of mortification and shame. 

I daresay it was all very weak and very childish, but I 
really think my last attempt, if rather ridiculous, was also 
very pitiful. 

Towards the end of our stay the proprietors of the hotel 
gave a Cotillon. As this was the event of the season, and 
nearly every woman was giving a dinner in honour of it, I 
resolved that I too would give one, inviting the gayest of the 
gay acquaintances I had made in Cairo. 

Feeling that it would be my last battle, and that so much 
depended upon it, I dressed myself with feverish care, in a 
soft white satin gown, which was cut lower than I had ever 
worn before, with slippers to match, a tight band of pearls 
about my thnoat and another about my head. 

When Price had finished dressing me she said: 

"Well, if his lordship prefers anybody else in the world 
to-night I shan't know where he puts his eyes." 

The compliment was a crude one, but I had no time to 
think of that, for my heart was fluttering with hopes and 
fear*, and I think any woman would forgive me under the 



MY HONEYMOON 189 

circumstances if I told myself, as I passed the tall mirrors 
on the stairs, that I too was beautiful. 

The dining-room was crowded when I entered it with my 
guests, and seeing that we were much observed it flashed upon 
me that my husband and I had become a subject of gossip. 
Partly for that reason I strangled the ugly thing that was 
writhing in my bosom, and put Alma (who had flown to me 
with affectionate rapture) next to my husband, and the 
colonel commanding on the Citadel in the seat beside me. 

Throughout the dinner, which was very long, I was very 
nervous, and though I did my best to keep up conversation 
with the colonel, I knew quite well that I was listening to 
what was being said at the other side of my big round table, 
and as often as any mention was made of "Margaret Mary" 
I heard it. 

More than once Alma lifted her glass with a gracious nod 
and smile, crying, "Mary dearest!" and then in another 
moment gave my husband one of her knowing glances which 
seemed to me to say, "Look at that foolish little wife of 
yours!" 

By the time we returned to the hall for coffee we were 
rather a noisy party, and even the eyes of the ladies betrayed 
the fact that they had dined. The talk, which had grown 
louder, was also a little more free, and God forgive me, I 
joined in it, being feverishly anxious to outdo Alma, and be 
looked upon as a woman of the world. 

Towards eleven o'clock, the red-coated orchestra began to 
play a waltz, and then the whole variegated company of 
ladies, soldiers, and diplomats stood up to dance, and the 
colonel asked me to join him. 

I was ashamed to tell him that I had never danced except 
with a schoolgirl, so I took his hand and started. But hardly 
had we begun, when I made mistakes, which I thought every- 
body saw (I am sure Alma saw them), and before we had 
taken many turns my partner had to stop, whereupon I re- 
tired to my seat with a forced laugh and a sense of confusion. 

It was nearly twelve when they began the Cotillon, which 
Alma and my husband led with supreme self-possession. As 
one of the hostesses I sat in the front row of the square, and 
when I was taken out I made further mistakes, which also 
Alma saw and communicated by smiles to my husband. 

Before the Cotillon came to an end the night was far 
spent and then the company, which had become very boisterous, 



190 THE WOMAN THOU GAYEST ME 

began to look for some new excitement, no matter how foolish. 
One or other started "turkey trot" and "grizzly bear" and 
finally Alma, with memories of the winter sports at St. Moritz, 
proposed that they should toboggan down the great staircase. 

The suggestion was welcomed with a shout, and a broad 
board was immediately laid on the first long flight of stairs 
for people to slide on. 

Soldiers went first, and then there were calls for the ladies, 
when Alma took her turn, tucking her dress under her at the 
top and alighting safely on her feet at the bottom. Other 
ladies followed her example, with similar good fortune, and 
then Alma, who had been saying "Such fun! Such lots of 
fun ! " set up a cry of ' ' Margaret Mary. ' ' 

I refused at first, feeling ashamed of even looking at such 
unwomanly folly, but something Alma said to my husband 
and something that was conveyed by my husband's glance 
at me set my heart afire and, poor feverish and entangled 
fool that I was, I determined to defy them. 

So running up to the top and seating myself on the tobog- 
gan I set it in motion. But hardly had I done so when it 
swayed, reeled, twisted and threw me off, with the result that 
I rolled downstairs to the bottom. 

Of course there we're shrieks of laughter, and if I had been 
in the spirit of the time and place I suppose I should have 
laughed too, and there would have been an end of the 
matter. But I had been playing a part, a tragic part, and 
feeling that I had failed and covered myself with ridicule, 
I was overwhelmed with confusion. 

I thought my husband would be angry with me, and feel 
compromised by my foolishness, but he was not; he was 
amused, and when at last I saw his face it was running in 
rivulets from the laughter he could not restrain. 

That was the end of all things, and when Alma came up to 
me, saying everything that was affectionate and insincere, 
about her "poor dear unfortunate Margaret Mary" (only 
women know how to wound each other so), I brushed her 
aside, went off to my bedroom, and lay face down on the sofa, 
feeling that I was utterly beaten and could fight no more. 

Half an hour afterwards my husband came in, and though 
I did not look up I heard him say, in a tone of indulgent 
sympathy that cut me to the quick: 

"You've been playing the wrong part, my child. A 
Madonna, yes, but a Venus, no! It's not your metier." 



MY HONEYMOON 191 

' ' What 's the good ? What 's the good ? What 's the good ? ' ' 
I asked myself. 

I thought my heart was broken. 

FORTY-SEVENTH CHAPTER 

WITH inexpressible relief I heard the following day that we 
were to leave for Rome immediately. 

Alma was to go with us, but that did not matter to me in 
the least. Outside the atmosphere of this place, so artificial, 
so unrelated to nature, her power over my husband would be 
gone. Once in the Holy City everything would be different. 
Alma would be different, I should be different, above all 
my husband would be different. I should take him to the 
churches and basilicas; I should show him the shrines and 
papal processions, and he would see me in my true "part" 
at last! 

But what a deep disappointment awaited me! 

On reaching Rome we put up at a fashionable hotel in the 
new quarter of the Ludovisi, and although that was only a 
few hundred yards from the spot on which I had spent nine 
happy years it seemed to belong to another world altogether. 
Instead of the church domes and the monastery bells, there 
were the harsh clang of electric trams, the thrum and throb of 
automobiles, the rattle of cars and the tramp of soldiers. 

Then I realised that there were two Romes an old Rome 
and a new one, and that the Rome we had come to hardly 
differed from the Cairo we had left behind. 

There was the same varied company of people of all na- 
tions, English, Americans, French, German ; the same nomad 
tribes of the rich and dissolute, pitching their tents season by 
season in the sunny resorts of Europe; the same aimless 
society, the same debauch of fashion, the same callous and 
wicked luxury, the same thirst for selfish pleasures, the same 
busy idleness, the same corruption of character and sex. 

This made me very unhappy, but from first to last Alma 
was in the highest spirits. Everybody seemed to be in Rome 
that spring, and everybody seemed to be known either to her 
or to my husband. For Alma's sake we were invited every- 
where, and thus we saw not only the life of the foreign people 
of the hotels but that of a part (not the better part) of the 
Roman aristocracy. 

Alma was a great success. She had the homage of all the 



192 THE WOMAN THOU GAYEST ME 

men, and being understood to be rich, and having the gift of 
making every man believe he was her special favourite, she was 
rarely without a group of Italian noblemen about her chair. 

With sharper eyes the Italian women saw that her real 
reckoning lay with my husband, but they seemed to think no 
worse of her for that. They seemed to think no worse of him 
either. It was nothing against him that, having married me 
(as everybody appeared to know) for the settlement of his 
financial difficulties, he had transferred his attentions, even 
on his honeymoon, to this brilliant and alluring creature. 

As for me, I was made to realise that I was a person of a 
different class altogether. When people wished to be kind 
they called me spirituelle, and when they were tempted to 
be the reverse they voted me insipid. 

As a result I became very miserable in this company, and 
I can well believe that I may have seemed awkward and shy 
and stupid when I was in some of their grey old palaces full 
of tapestry and bronze, for I sometimes found the talk there 
so free (especially among the women) that the poisoned 
jokes went quivering through me. 

Things I had been taught to think sacred were so often 
derided that I had to ask myself if it could be Rome, my 
holy and beloved Rome this city of license and unbelief. 

But Alma was entirely happy, especially when the talk 
turned on conjugal fidelity, and the faithful husband was 
held up to ridicule. This happened very often in one house 
we used to go to that of a Countess of ancient family who 
was said to have her husband and her lover at either side of 
her when she sat down to dinner. 

She was a large and handsome person of middle age, with 
a great mass of fair hair, and she gave me the feeling that in 
her case the body of a woman was inhabited by the soul of 
a man. 

She christened me her little Irish bambino, meaning her 
child; and one night in her drawing-room, after dinner, be- 
fore the men had joined us, she called me to her side on the 
couch,, lit a cigarette, crossed her legs, and gave us with 
startling candour her views of the marriage bond. 

"What can you except, you women?" she said. "You 
run after the men for their titles they've very little else, 
except debts, poor things and what is the result? The first 
result is that though you have bought them you belong to 



MY HONEYMOON 193 

them. Yes, TOUT husband owns his beautiful woman, just as 
he owns his beautiful horse or his beautiful dog." 

This was so pointed that I felt my face growing crimson, 
but Alma and the other women only laughed, so the Countess 
went on: 

""What then? Once in a blue moon each goes his and her 
own way without sin. You agree to a sort of partnership for 
mutual advantage in which you live together in chastity 
under the same roof. "What a life! "What an ice-house!" 

Again the other women laughed, but I felt myself blushing 
deeply. 

"But in the majority of cases it is quite otherwise. The 
business purpose served, each is open to other emotions. 
The man becomes unfaithful, and the woman, if she has 
any spirit, pays him out tit for tat and why shouldn't 
she?" 

After that I could bear no more, and before I knew what I 
was saying I blurted out: 

' ' But I find that wrong and wicked. Infidelity on the part 
of the man does not justify infidelity in the woman. The 
prayer-book says so." 

Alma burst out laughing, and the Countess smiled and 
continued : 

"Once in a hundred years there comes a great passion 
Dante and Beatrice, Petrarch and Laura, The woman meets 
the right man too late. What a tragedy! "What a daily and 
hourly crucifixion ! Unless," said the Countess with emphasis, 
"she is prepared to renounce the law and reject society and 
live a life of complete emancipation. But in a Catholic 
country, where there is no divorce, what woman can afford 
to do that? Nobody in the higher classes can especially if 
she has to sacrifice her title. So the wise woman avoids 
scandal, keeps her little affair with her lover to herself, and 
. . . and that's marriage, my dears." 

A twitter of approval, led by Alma, came from the other 
women, but I was quivering with anger and I said : 

"Then marriage is an hypocrisy and an imposture. If I 
found I loved somebody better than my husband, I should go 
to him in spite of the law, and society, and title and . . . 
and everything. " 

"Of course you would, my dear," said the Countess, smiling 
at me as at a child, ' ' but that 's because you are such a sweet, 
simple, innocent little Irish bambino." 

N 



194 THE WOMAN THOU GAVEST ME 

It must have been a day or two after this that we were 
invited to the Roman Hunt. I had no wish to go, but Alma 
who had begun to use me in order to "save her face" in rela- 
tion to my husband, induced me to drive them out in a motor- 
car to the place on the Campagna where they were to mount 
their horses. 

"Dear sweet girl!" said Alma. "How could we possibly 
go without you?" 

It was Sunday, and I sat between Alma in her riding habit 
and my husband in his riding breeches, while we ran through 
the Porta San Giovanni, and past the osterie where the 
pleasure-loving Italian people were playing under the pergolas 
with their children, until we came to the meeting-ground of 
the Hunt, by the Trappist monastery of Tre Fontane. 

A large company of the Roman aristocracy were gathered 
there with their horses and hounds, and they received Alma 
and my husband with great cordiality. What they thought of 
me I do not know, except that I was a childish and complacent 
wife ; and when at the sound of the horn the hunt began, and 
my husband and Alma went prancing off with the rest, with- 
out once looking back, I asked myself in my shame and distress 
if I could bear my humiliation much longer. 

But then came a moment of unexpected pleasure. A 
cheerful voice on the other side of the car said : 

"Good morning, Lady Raa." 

It was the young Irish doctor from the steamer. -His ship 
had put into Naples for two days, and, like Martin Conrad 
before my marriage, he had run up to look at Rome. 

"But have you heard the news?" he cried. 

"What news?" 

"About the South Pole Expedition they're on their way 
home. ' ' 

"So soon?" 

"Yes, they reached New Zealand on Saturday was a week." 

"And . . . and . . . and Martin Conrad?" 

"He's well, and what's better, he has distinguished him- 
self." 

" I ... I ... I knew he would. ' ' 

"So did I ! The way I was never fearing that if they gave 
Mart half a chance he would come out top ! Do or die that 
was his watch- word. " 

"I know! I know!" 

His eyes were sparkling and so I suppose were mine, while 



MY HONEYMOON 195 

with a joyous rush of racy words, (punctuated by me with 
"Yes," "Yes," "Yes") he told of a long despatch from the 
Lieutenant published by one of the London papers, in which 
Martin had been specially mentioned how he had been put in 
command of some difficult and perilous expedition, and had 
worked wonders. 

"How splendid! How glorious! How perfectly magnifi- 
cent ! " I said. 

"Isn't it?" said the doctor, and for a few moments more 
we bandied quick questions and replies like children playing 
at battledore and shuttlecock. Then he said: 

"But I'm after thinking it's mortal strange I never heard 
him mention you. There was only one chum at home he used 
to talk about and that was a man a boy, I mean. Mally he 
was calling him that's short for Maloney, I suppose." 

"For Mary," I said. 

"Mary, is it? "Why, by the saints, so it is! Where in the 
name of St. Patrick has been the Irish head at me that I never 
thought of that before ? And you were . . . Yes ? Well, 
by the powers, ye've a right to be proud of him, for he was 
thinking pearls and diamonds of you. I was mortal jealous 
of Mally, I remember. ' Mally 's a stunner,' he used to say. 
'Follow you anywhere, if you wanted it, in spite of the devil 
and hell.'" 

The sparkling eyes were growing misty by this time but 
the woman in me made me say I couldn't help it 

"I dare say he's had many girl friends since my time, 
though?" 

' ' Narra a one. The girls used to be putting a glime on him 
in Dublin they're the queens of the world too, those Dublin 
girls but never a skute of the eye was he giving to the one of 
them. I used to think it was work, but maybe it wasn't 
. . . maybe it was. . . ." 

I dare not let him finish what I saw he was going to say 
I didn't know what would happen to me if he did so I 
jumped in by telling him that, if he would step into the car, I 
would drivt him back to Rome. 

He did so, and all the way he talked of Martin, his courage 
and resource and the hardships he had gone through, until 
(with backward thoughts of Alma and my husband riding 
away over the Campagna) my heart, which had been leaping 
like a lamb, began to ache and ache. 

We returned by the Old Appian Way, where the birds were 



196 THE WOMAN THOU GAVEST ME 

building their nests among the crumbling tombs, through 
the Porta San Paolo, and past the grave of the "young 
English poet" of whom I have always thought it was not so 
sad that he died of consumption as in the bitterness of a 
broken heart. 

All this time I was so much at home with the young Irish 
doctor, who was Martin's friend, that it was not until I was 
putting him down at his hotel that I remembered I did not 
even know his name. 

It was 'Sullivan. 

FORTY-EIGHTH CHAPTER 

EVERY day during our visit to Rome I had reminded myself 
of the Reverend Mother's invitation to call on her, and a 
sense of moral taint had prevented me, but now I determined 
to see her at least by going to Benediction at her Convent 
church the very next day. 

It happened, however, that this was the time when the 
Artists' Club of Rome were giving a Veglione (a kind of 
fancy-dress ball), and as Alma and my husband desired to go 
to it, and were still in the way of using me to keep themselves 
in countenance, I consented to accompany them on condition 
that I did not dress or dance, and that they would go with me 
to Benediction the following day. 

"Dear sweet girl!" said Alma. "We'll do whatever you 
like. Of course we will." 

I wore my soft satin without any ornaments, and my 
husband merely put scarlet facings on the lapels of his evening 
coat, but Alma was clad in a gorgeous dress of old gold, with 
Oriental skirts which showed her limbs in front but had a long 
train behind, and made her look like a great vampire bat. 

It was eleven o'clock before we reached the theatre, but 
already the auditorium was full, and so well had the artists 
done their work of decoration, making the air alive with 
floating specks of many-coloured lights, like the fire-flies at 
Nemi, that the scene was one of enchantment. 

It was difficult to believe that on the other side of the 
walls was the street, with the clanging electric bells and people 
hurrying by with their collars up, for the night was cold, and 
it had begun to rain as we came in, and one poor woman, with 
a child under her shawl, was standing by the entrance trying 
to sell evening papers. 



MY HONEYMOON 197 

I sat alone in a box on the ground tier while Alma and my 
husband and their friends were below on the level of the 
poltroni (the stalls) that had been arranged for the dancing, 
which began immediately after we arrived and went on with- 
out a break until long after midnight. 

Then there was supper on the stage, and those who did not 
eat drank a good deal until nearly everybody seemed to be 
under the influence of alcohol. As a consequence many of the 
people, especially some of the women (not good women I 
fear), seemed to lose all control of themselves, singing snatches 
of noisy songs, sipping out of the men's glasses, taking the 
smoke of cigarettes out of the men's mouths, sitting on the 
men's knees, and even riding astride on the men's arms and 
shoulders. 

I bore these sights as long as I could, making many fruitless 
appeals to my husband to take me home ; and I was just about 
to leave of myself, being sick of the degradation of my sex, 
when a kind of rostrum, with an empty chair on top of it, 
was carried in on the shoulders of a number of men. 

This was for the enthronement of the Queen of Beauty, and 
as it passed round the arena, with the mock judges in paper 
coronets, walking ahead to make their choice, some of the 
women, lost to all sense of modesty, were shouting "Take 
me! Take me!" 

I felt sure they would take Alma, so I reached forward to 
get a better view of her, where she stood below my box; but 
as they approached her, with the chair still empty, I saw her 
make a movement in my direction and say something to the 
judges about "the little nun," which made my husband nod 
his head and then laugh uproariously. 

At the next moment, before I knew what they were doing, 
six or seven men jumped into my box, lifted me on to the 
rostrum and placed me in the chair, whereupon the whole 
noisy company in the theatre broke into wild shouts of saluta- 
tion and pelted me with flowers and confetti. 

If there was any pride there was more mortification in the 
position to which Alma and my husband had exposed me, for 
as I was being carried round the arena, with the sea of foam- 
ing faces below me, all screaming out of their hot and open 
mouths, I heard the men cry: 

"Smile, Signorina!" 

"Not so serious, Mademoiselle!" 

It would do no good to say what memories of other scenes 



198 THE WOMAN THOU GAYEST ME 

flashed back on my mind as I was being borne along in the 
mad procession. I felt as if it would last for ever. But it 
came to an end at length, and as soon as I was released, I 
begged my husband again to take me home, and when he said, 
"Not yet; well all be going by-and-by, " I stole away by 
myself, found a cab, and drove back to the hotel. 

The day was dawning as I passed through the stony streets, 
and when I reached my room, and pulled down my dark 
green blinds, the bell of the Capuchin monastery in the Via 
Veneto was ringing and the monks were saying the first of 
their offices. 

I must have been some time in bed, hiding my hot face in 
the bed-clothes, when Price, my maid, came in to apologise for 
not having seen me come back alone. The pain of the woman 's 
scrutiny was more than I could bear at that moment, so I 
tried to dismiss her, but I could not get her to go, and at last 
she said : 

"If you please, my lady, I want to say something." 

I gave her no encouragement, yet she continued. 

"I daresay it's as much as my place is worth, but I'm 
bound to say it." 

Still I said nothing, yet she went on : 

"His Lordship and Madame have also arrived. . . . They 
came back half an hour ago. And just now ... I saw 
his lordship . . . coming out of Madame 's room." 

' ' Go away, woman, go away, ' ' I cried in the fierce agony of 
my shame, and she went out at last, closing the door noisily 
behind her. 

We did not go next day to Benediction at the Reverend 
Mother's church. But late the same night, when it was quite 
dark, I crept out of my room into the noisy streets, hardly 
knowing where my footsteps were leading me, until I found 
myself in the piazza of the Convent of the Sacred Heart. 

It was quiet enough there. Only the Carabinieri were 
walking on the paved way with measured steps, and the bell 
of the Dominican monastery was slowly ringing under the 
silent stars. I could see the light on the Pope's loggia at the 
Vatican and hear the clock of St. Peter's striking nine. 

There were lights in the windows of some of the dormitories 
also, and by that I knew that the younger children, the chil- 
dren of the "infant Jesus, were going to bed. There was a light 



MY HONEYMOON 199 

too, in the large window of the church, and that told me that 
the bigger girls were saying their night prayers. 

Creeping close to the convent wall I heard the girls' voices 
rising and falling, and then through the closed door of the 
church came the muffled sound of their evening hymn 

"Ave maris steUa 
Dei Mater Alma " 

I did not know why I was putting myself wilfully to this 
bitter pain the pain of remembering the happy years in 
which I myself was a girl singing so, and then telling myself 
that other girls were there now who knew nothing of me. 

I thought of the Reverend Mother, and then of my own 
mother, my saint, my angel, who had told me to think of her 
when I sang that hymn; and then I remembered where I 
was and what had happened to me. 

"Virgin of all virgins, 
To thy shelter take me." 

I felt like an outcast. A stifling sensation came into my 
throat and I dropped to my knees in the darkness. I thought 
I was broken-hearted. 

FORTY-NINTH CHAPTER 

Nor long after that we left Italy on our return to England. 
"We were to reach home by easy stages so as to see some of the 
great capitals of Europe, but I had no interest in the journey 

Our first stay was at Monte Carlo, that sweet garden of the 
Mediterranean which God seems to smile upon and man to 
curse. 

If I had been allowed to contemplate the beautiful spectacle 
of nature I think I could have been content, but Alma, with 
her honeyed and insincere words, took me to the Casino on 
the usual plea of keeping her in countenance. 

I hated the place from the first, with its stale air, its chink 
of louis d'or, its cry of the croupiers, its strained faces about 
the tables, and its general atmosphere of wasted hopes and 
fears and needless misery and despair. 

As often as I could I crept out to look at the flower fetes in 
the streets, or to climb the hill of La Turbie and think I was 
on my native rocks with Martin Conrad, or even to sit in my 
room and watch the poor wounded pigeons from the pigeon- 



200 THE WOMAN THOU GAVEST ME 

traps as they tumbled and ducked into the sea after the shots 
fired, by cruel and unsportsmanlike sportsmen, from the rifle- 
range below. 

In Monte Carlo my husband's vices seemed to me to grow 
rank and fast. The gambling fever took complete possession 
of him. At first he won and then he drank heavily, but 
afterwards he lost and then his nature became still more ugly 
and repulsive. 

One evening towards eight o'clock, I was in my room, trying 
to comfort a broken-winged pigeon which had come floundering 
through the open window, when my husband entered with 
wild eyes. 

"The red's coming up at all the tables," he cried breath- 
lessly. "Give me some money, quick!" 

I told him I had no money except the few gold pieces in 
my purse. 

"You've a cheque book give me a cheque, then." 

I told him that even if I gave him a cheque he could not 
cash it that night, the banks being closed. 

"The jewellers are open though, and you have jewels, 
haven't you? Stop fooling with that creature, and let me 
have some of them to pawn." 

The situation was too abject for discussion, so I pointed to 
the drawer in which my jewels were kept, and he tore it open, 
took what he wanted and went out hurriedly without more 
words. 

After that I saw no more of him for two days, when with 
black rings about his eyes he came in to say he must leave 
"this accursed place" immediately or we should all be ruined. 

Our last stopping-place was Paris, and in my ignorance of 
the great French capital which has done so much for the 
world, I thought it must be the sink of every kind of 
corruption. 

We put up at a well-known hotel in the Champs Elysees, 
and there (as well as in the cafes in the Bois and at the races 
at Longchamps on Sundays) we met the same people again, 
most of them English and Americans on their way home after 
the winter. It seemed to me strange that there should be so 
many men and women in the world with nothing to do, merely 
loafing round it like tramps the richest being the idlest, 
and the idlest the most immoral. 

My husband knew many Frenchmen of the upper classes, 
and I think he spent several hours every day at their clubs, 



MY HONEYMOON 201 

but (perhaps at Alma's instigation) lie made us wallow 
through the filth of Paris by night. 

"It will be lots of fun," said Alma. "And then who is 
to know us in places like those?" 

I tolerated this for a little while, and then refused to be 
dragged around any longer as a cloak for Alma's pleasures. 
Telling myself that if I continued to share my husband's 
habits of life, for any reason or under any pretext, I should 
become like him, and my soul would rot inch by inch, I 
resolved to be clean in my own eyes and to resist the con- 
taminations of his company. 

As a consequence, he became more and more reckless, and 
Alma made no efforts to restrain him, so that it came to pass 
at last that they went together to a scandalous entertainment 
which was for a while the talk of the society papers through- 
out Europe. 

I know no more of this entertainment than I afterwards 
learned from those sources that it was given by a notorious 
woman, who was not shut out of society because she was 
"the good friend" of a King; that she did the honours with 
clever imitative elegance ; that her salon that night was crowded 
with such male guests as one might see at the court of a 
queen princes, dukes, marquises, counts, English noblemen 
and members of parliament, as well as some reputable women 
of my own and other countries; that the tables were laid for 
supper at four o'clock with every delicacy of the season and 
wines of the rarest vintage; that after supper dancing was 
resumed with increased animation ; and that the dazzling and 
improper spectacle terminated with a Chatne diabolique at 
seven in the morning, when the sun was streaming through the 
windows and the bells of the surrounding churches were 
ringing for early mass. 

I had myself risen early that morning to go to communion 
at the Madeleine, and never shall I forget the effect of cleans- 
ing produced upon me by the sacred sacrament. From the 
moment when the priest standing at the foot of the altar 
the choir sang the Eyrie eleison, down to the solemn silence of 
the elevation, I had a sense of being washed from all the taint 
of the contaminating days since my marriage. 

The music was Perosi's, I remember, and the voices in the 
Gloria in excelsis, which I used to sing myself, seemed to carry 
up the cry of my sorrowful heart to the very feet of the 
Virgin whose gracious figure hung above me. 



202 THE WOMAN THOU GAVEST ME 

"Cleanse me and intercede for me, Mother of my God." 

It was as though our Blessed Lady did so, for as I walked 
out of the church and down the broad steps in front of it, I 
had a feeling of purity and lightness that I had never known 
since my time at the Sacred Heart. 

It was a beautiful day, with all the freshness and fragrance 
of early morning in summer, when the white stone houses of 
Paris seem to blush in the sunrise; and as I walked up the 
Champs Elysees on my way back to the hotel. I met under 
the chestnut trees, which were then in bloom, a little company 
of young girls returning to school after their first communion. 

How sweet they looked ! In their white muslin frocks, 
white shoes and stockings and gloves, white veils and coronets 
of white flowers, they were twittering away as merrily as the 
little birds that were singing unseen in the leaves above 
them. 

It made me feel like a child myself to look at their sweet 
faces ; but turning into the hotel I felt like a woman too, for I 
thought the great and holy mystery, the sacrament of union 
and love, had given me such strength that I could meet 
any further wrong I might have to endure in my walk 
through the world with charity and forgiveness. 

But how little a woman knows of her heart until it is 
tried in the fires of passion ! 

As I entered the salon which (as usual) divided my hus- 
band's bedroom from mine, I came upon my maid, Price, 
listening intently at my husband's closed door. This seemed 
to me so improper that I was beginning to reprove her, when 
she put her finger to her lip and coming over to me with her 
black eyes ablaze she said : 

"I know you will pack me off for what I'm going to say, yet 
I can't help that. You've stood too much already, my lady, 
but if you are a woman and have any pride in yourself as a 
wife, go and listen at that door and see if you can stand any 
more." 

With that she went out of the salon, and I tried to go to my 
own room, but I could not stir. Something held me to the spot 
on which I stood, and I found myself listening to the voices 
which I could distinctly hear in my husband's bedroom. 

There were two voices, one a man's, loud and reckless, the 
other a woman's soft and cautious. 

There was no need to tell myself whose voices they were, 
and neither did I ask myself any questions. I did not put to 



MY HONEYMOON 203 

my mind the pros and cons of the case for myself or the case 
for my husband. I only thought and felt and behaved as 
any other wife would think and feel and behave at such a 
moment. An ugly and depraved thing, which my pride or my 
self-respect had never hitherto permitted me to believe in, 
suddenly leapt into life. 

I was outraged. I was a victim of the treachery, the 
duplicity, the disloyalty, and the smothered secrecy of husband 
and friend. 

My heart and soul were aflame with a sense of wrong. All 
the sweetening and softening and purifying effects of the 
sacrament were gone in an instant, and, moving stealthily 
across the carpet towards my husband's door, I swiftly turned 
the handle. 

The door was locked. 

I heard a movement inside the room and in a moment I 
hurried from the salon into the corridor, intending to enter 
by another door. As I was about to do so I heard the lock 
turned back by a cautious hand within. Then I swung the 
door open and boldly entered the room. 

Nobody was there except my husband. 

But I was just in time to catch the sound of rustling skirts 
in the adjoining apartment and to see a door closed gently 
behind them. 

I looked around. Although the sun was shining, the blinds 
were down and the air was full of a rank odour of stale 
tobacco such as might have been brought back in people's 
clothes from that shameless woman's salon. 

My husband, who had clearly been drinking, was looking 
at me with a half-senseless grin. His thin hair was a little 
disordered. His prominent front teeth showed hideously. I 
saw that he was trying to carry things off with an air. 

"This is an unexpected pleasure. I think it must be the 
first time . . . the very first time that . . ." 

I felt deadly cold; I almost swooned; I could scarcely 
breathe, but I said: 

' ' Is that all you Ve got to say to me ? " 

"All? What else, my dear! I don't understand . . ." 

"You understand quite well," I answered, and then looking 
towards the door of the adjoining apartment, I said, "both of 
you understand." 

My husband began to laugh a drunken, idiotic laugh. 

"Oh, you mean that . . . perhaps you imagine that ..." 



204 THE WOMAN THOU GAVEST ME 

"Listen," I said. "This is the end of everything between 
you and me." 

"The end? Why, I thought that was long ago. In fact I 
thought everything ended before it began." 

"I mean ..." I knew I was faltering ... "I 
mean that I can no longer keep up the farce of being your 
wife." 

"Farce!" Again he laughed. "I congratulate you, my 
dear. Farce is exactly the word for it. Our relations have 
been a farce ever since the day we were married, and if any- 
thing has gone wrong you have only yourself to blame for it. 
What 's a man to do whose wife is no company for anybody but 
the saints and angels?" 

His coarse ridicule cut me to the quick. I was humiliated 
by the thought that after all in his own gross way my husband 
had something to say for himself. 

Knowing I was no match for him I wanted to crawl away 
without another word. But my silence or the helpless expres- 
sion of my face must have been more powerful than my speech, 
for after a few seconds in which he went on saying in his 
drawling way that I had been no wife to him, and if anything 
had happened I had brought it on myself, he stopped, and 
neither of us spoke for a moment. 

Then feeling that if I stayed any longer in that room 1 
should faint, I turned to go, and he opened the door for me 
and bowed low, perhaps in mockery, as I passed out. 

When I reached my own bedroom I was so weak that I 
almost dropped, and so cold that my maid had to give me 
brandy and put hot bottles to my feet. 

And then the tears came and I cried like a chili 

FIFTIETH CHAPTER 

I WAS far from well next morning and Price wished to keep 
me in bed, but I got up immediately when I heard that my 
husband was talking of returning to London. 

Our journey was quite uneventful. We three sat together 
in the railway carriage and in the private cabin on the steamer, 
with no other company than Bimbo, my husband's terrier, 
and Prue, Alma's Pekingese spaniel. 

Although he made no apology for his conduct of the day 
before my husband was quiet and conciliatory, and being 
sober he looked almost afraid, as if telling himself that he 



MY HONEYMOON 205 

might have to meet my father soon the one man in the 
world of whom he seemed to stand in fear. 

Alma looked equally frightened, but she carried off her 
nervousness with a great show of affection, saying she was 
sorry I was feeling "badly," that France and the South did 
not agree with me, and that I should be ever so much better 
when I was "way up north." 

"We put up at a well-known hotel near Trafalgar Square, 
the same that in our girlhood had been the subject of Alma's 
dreams of future bliss, and I could not help observing that 
while my husband was selecting our rooms she made a rather 
ostentatious point of asking for an apartment on another floor. 

It was late when we arrived, so I went to bed immediately, 
being also anxious to be alone that I might think out my 
course of action. 

I was then firmly resolved that one way or other my life 
with my husband should come to an end; that I would no 
longer be befouled by the mire he had been dragging me 
through; that I should live a clean life and drink a pure 
draught, and oh, how my very soul seemed to thirst for it! 

This was the mood in which I went to sleep, but when I 
awoke in the morning, almost before the dawn, the strength 
of my resolution ebbed away. I listened to the rumble of 
the rubber-bound wheels of the carriages and motor-cars that 
passed under my window and, remembering that I had not 
a friend in London, I felt small and helpless. "What could I 
do alone? "Where could I turn for assistance T 

Instinctively I knew it would be of no use to appeal to 
my father, for though it was possible that he might knock 
my husband down, it was not conceivable that he would 
encourage me to separate from him. 

In my loneliness and helplessness I felt like a ship-wrecked 
sailor, who, having broken away from the foundering vessel 
that would have sucked him under, is yet tossing on a raft 
with the threatening ocean on every side, and looking vainly 
for a sail. 

At last I thought of ilr. Curphy, my father's advocate, 
and decided to send a telegram to him asking for the name 
of some solicitor in London to whom I could apply for advice. 

To carry out this intention I went down to the hall about 
nine o'clock, when people were passing into the breakfast- 
room, and visitors were calling at the bureau, and liveried 
page-boys were shouting names in the corridors. 



206 THE WOMAN THOU GAVEST ME 

There was a little writing-room at one side of the hall and I 
sat there to write my telegram. It ran 

"Please send name and address reliable solicitor London 
whom I can consult on important business." 

I was holding the telegraph-form in my hand and reading 
my message again and again to make sure that it would lead 
to no mischief, when I began to think of Martin Conrad. 

It seemed to me that some one had mentioned his name, 
but I told myself that must have been a mistake, that, being 
so helpless and so much in need of a friend at that moment, 
my heart and not my ears had heard it. 

Nevertheless as I sat holding my telegraph-form I became 
conscious of somebody who was moving about me. It was 
a man, for I could smell the sweet peaty odour of his Harris 
tweeds. 

At length with that thrill which only the human voice 
can bring to us when it is the voice of one from whom we have 
been long parted, I heard somebody say, from the other 
side of the desk : 

"Mary, is it you?" 

I looked up, the blood rushed to my face and a dazzling mist 
floated before my eyes, so that for a moment I could hardly see 
who was there. But I knew who it was it was Martin himself. 

He came down on me like a breeze from the mountain, 
took me by both hands, telegram and all, and said : 

"My goodness, this is stunning!" 

I answered, as well as I could for the confusion that over- 
whelmed me. 

"I'm so glad, so glad!" 

"How well you are looking! A little thin, perhaps, but 
such a colour!" 

"I'm so glad, so glad!" I repeated, though I knew I was 
only blushing. 

' ' "When did you arrive ? ' ' 

I told him, and he said: 

"We came into port only yesterday. And to think that 
you and I should come to the same hotel and meet on the 
very first morning! It's like a fate, as our people in the 
island say. But it's stunning, perfectly stunning!" 

A warm tide of joy was coursing through me and taking 
away my breath, but I managed to say : 

"I've heard about your expedition. You had great hard- 
ships." 



MY HONEYMOON 207 

"That was nothing! Just a little pleasure-trip down to 
the eighty-sixth latitude." 

"And great successes?" 

"That was nothing either. The chief was jolly good, and 
the boys were bricks." 

"I'm so glad, so glad!" I said again, for a kind of dumb 
joy had taken possession of me, and I went on saying the same 
thing over and over again, as people do when they are very 
happy. 

For two full minutes I felt happier than I had ever been 
in my life before ; and then an icy chill came over me, for I 
remembered that I had been married since I saw Martin 
Conrad last and I did not know how I was to break the news 
to him. 

Just then my husband and Alma came down the lift, and 
seeing me with a stranger, as they crossed the hall to go into 
the breakfast-room, they came up and spoke. 

I had to introduce them and it was hard to do, for it was 
necessary to reveal everything in a word. I looked at Martin 
Conrad when I presented him to my husband and he did not 
move a muscle. Then I looked at my husband and under a 
very small bow his face grew dark. 

I could not help seeing the difference between the two men 
as they stood together Martin with his sea-blue eyes and 
his look of splendid health, and my husband with his sallow 
cheeks and his appearance of wasted strength and somehow 
from some unsearchable depths of my soul the contrast 
humbled me. 

When I introduced Alma she took Martin's hand and held 
it while she gazed searchingly into his eyes from under her 
eyebrows, as she always did when she was being presented 
to a man; but I saw that in this instance her glance fell 
with no more effect on its object than a lighted vesta on a 
running stream. 

After the usual banal phrases my husband inquired if 
Martin was staying in the house, and then asked if he would 
dine with us some dav. 

"Certainly! Delighted! With all the pleasure in the 
world," said Martin. 

"Then." said my husband with rather frigid politeness, 
"you will see more of your friend Mary." 

"Yes," said Alma, in a way that meant much, "you will 
see more of your friend Mary." 



208 THE WOMAN THOU GAYEST ME 

"Don't you worry about that, ma'am. You bet I will," 
said Martin, looking straight into Alma's eyes; and though 
she laughed as she passed into the breakfast-room with my 
husband, I could see that for the first time in her life a man's 
face had frightened her. 

"Then you knew?" I said, when they were gone. 

"Yes; a friend of mine who met you abroad came down 
to see us into port and he . . ." 

"Dr. 'Sullivan?" 

"That's the man! Isn't he a boy? And, my gracious, the 
way he speaks of you ! But now . . . now you must go to 
breakfast yourself, and I must be off about my business." 

"Don't go yet," I said. 

" I '11 stay all day if you want me to ; but I promised to meet 
the Lieutenant on the ship in half an hour, and . . . " 

"Then you must go." 

' ' Not yet. Sit down again. Five minutes will do no harm. 
And by the way, now that I look at you again, I 'm not so sure 
that you . . . Italy, Egypt, there's enough sun down 
there, but you're pale ... a little pale, aren't you?" 

I tried to make light of my pallor but Martin looked uneasy, 
and after a moment he asked: 

"How long are you staying in London?" 

I told him I did not know, whereupon he said : 

"Well, I'm to be here a month, making charts and tables 
and reports for the Royal Geographical Society, but if you 
want me for anything ... do you want me now?" 

"No-o, no, not now," I answered. 

"Well, if you do want me for anything anything at all, 
mind, just pass the word and the charts and the tables and 
the reports and the Royal Geographical Society may go to 
the . . . Well, somewhere." 

I laughed and rose and told him he ought to go, though at 
the bottom of my heart I was wishing him to stay, and think- 
ing how little and lonely I was, while here was a big brave man 
who could protect me from every danger. 

We walked together to the door, and there I took his hand 
and held it, feeling, like a child, that if I let him go he might 
be lost in the human ocean outside and I should see no more of 
him. 

At last, struggling hard with a lump that was gathering in 
my throat, I said: 

' ' Martin, I have been so happy to see you. I 've never been 



MY HONEYMOON 209 

so happy to see anybody in my life. You 11 let me see you 
again, won't you?" 

"Won't I? Bet your life I will," he said, and then, as 
if seeing that my lip was trembling and my eyes were begin- 
ning to fill, he broke into a cheerful little burst of our native 
tongue, so as to give me a "heise" as we say in Elian and to 
make me laugh at the last moment. 

"Look here keep to-morrow for me, will yef If them 
ones" (my husband and Alma) "is afther axing ye to do 
anything else just tell them there's an ould shipmate ashore, 
and he's wanting ye to go 'asploring.' See? So-long!" 

It had been like a dream, a beautiful dream, and as soon 
as I came to myself in the hall, with the visitors calling at 
the bureau and the page-boys shouting in the corridors, I 
found that my telegraph-form, crumpled and crushed, was 
still in the palm of my left hand. 

I tore it up and went in to breakfast. 



FOURTH PART 
I FALL IN LOVE 

FIFTY-FIRST CHAPTER 

DURING our first day in London my husband had many 
visitors, including Mr. Eastcliff and Mr. Vivian, who had 
much to tell and arrange about. 

I dare say a great many events had happened during our 
six months ' absence from England ; but the only thing I heard 
of was that Mr. Eastcliff had married his dancing-girl, that 
she had retired from the stage, and that her public appearances 
were now confined to the box-seat of a four-in-hand coach, 
which he drove from London to Brighton. 

This expensive toy he proposed to bring round to the hotel 
the following day, which chanced to be Derby Day, when a 
party was to be made up for the races. 

In the preparations for the party, Alma, who, as usual, 
attracted universal admiration, was of course included, but 
I did not observe that any provision was made for me, though 
that circumstance did not distress me in the least, because 
I was waiting for Martin 's message. 

It came early next morning in the person of Martin himself, 
who, running into our sitting-room like a breath of wind 
from the sea, said his fellow officers were separating that 
day, each going to his own home, and their commander had 
invited me to lunch with them on their ship, which was lying 
off Tilbury. 

It did not escape me that my husband looked relieved at 
this news, and that Alma's face brightened as she said in her 
most succulent tones: 

' ' I should go if I were you, Mary. The breeze on the river 
will do you a world of good, dear. ' ' 

I was nothing loath to take them at their word, so I let them 
go off in their four-in-hand coach, a big and bustling party, 
while with a fast-beating heart I made ready to spend the day 
with Martin, having, as I thought, so much and such serious 
things to say to him. 

A steam launch from the ship was waiting for us at the 
210 



I FALL IN LOVE 211 

Westminster Pier, and from the moment I stepped into it 
I felt like another woman. It was a radiant day in May, 
when the climate of our much-maligned London is the bright- 
est and best, and the biggest city in the world is also the 
most beautiful. 

How I loved it that day! The sunlight, the moving river, 
the soft air of early summer, the passing panorama of build- 
ings, old and new what a joy it was to me! I sat on a side 
seat, dipping my hand over the gunwale into the cool water, 
while Martin, with a rush of racy words, was pointing out and 
naming everything. 

St. Paul's was soon past, with the sun glistening off the 
golden cross on its dome ; then London Bridge ; then the Tower, 
with its Traitors' Gate; then the new Thames Bridge; and 
then we were in the region of the barges and wharfs and 
warehouses, with their colliers and coasting traders, and 
with the scum of coal and refuse floating on the surface of 
the stream. 

After that came uglier things still, which we did not mind, 
and then the great docks with the hammering of rivets and 
the cranking noise of the lightermen 's donkey engines, loading 
and unloading the big steamers and sailing ships; and then 
the broad reaches of the river where the great liners, looking 
so high as we steamed under them, lay at anchor to their 
rusty cable-chains, with their port-holes gleaming in the 
sun like rows of eyes, as Martin said, in the bodies of gigantic 
fish. 

At last we came out in a fresh breadth of water, with 
marshes on either side and a far view of the sea, and there, 
heaving a little to the flowing tide, and with a sea-gull floating 
over her mizzen mast, lay Martin's ship. 

She was a wooden schooner, once a Dundee whaler called 
the Mary but now re-christened the Scotia, and it would be 
silly to say how my eyes filled at sight of her, just because 
she had taken Martin down into the deep Antarctic and 
brought him safely back again. 

"She's a beauty, isn't she?" said Martin. 

"Isn't she?" I answered, and in spite of all my troubles 
I felt entirely happy. 

We had steamed down against a strong tide, so we were 
half an hour late for luncheon, and the officers had gone 
down to the saloon, but it was worth being a little after time 
to see the way they all leapt up and received me like a queen 



212 THE WOMAN THOU GAVEST ME 

making me feel, as I never felt before, the difference between 
the politeness of the fashionable idlers and the manners of 
the men who do things. 

''Holloa!" they cried. 

"Excuse us, won't you? We thought something had hap- 
pened and perhaps you were not coming," said the comman- 
der, and then he put me to sit between himself and Martin. 

The strange thing was that I was at home in that company 
in a moment, and if anybody imagines that I must have been 
embarrassed because I was the only member of my sex among 
so many men he does not know the heart of a woman. 

They were such big, bronzed manly fellows with the note of 
health and the sense of space about them large space as if 
they had come out of the heroic youth of the world, that 
they set my blood a-tingling to look at them. 

They were very nice to me too, though I knew that I only 
stood for the womankind that each had got at home and 
was soon to go back to, but none the less it was delightful to 
fee] as if I were taking the first fruits of their love for them. 

So it came to pass that within a few minutes I, who had 
been called insipid and was supposed to have no conversation, 
was chattering away softly and happily, making remarks about 
the things around me and asking all sorts of questions. 

Of course I asked many foolish ones, which made the men 
laugh very much; but their laughter did not hurt me the 
least bit in the world, because everybody laughed on that 
ship, even the sailors who served the dishes, and especially 
one grizzly old salt, a cockney from Wapping, who for some 
unexplained reason was called Treacle. 

It made me happy to see how they all deferred to Martin, 
saying: "Isn't that so, Doctor?" or "Don't you agree, Doc- 
tor?" and though it was strange and new to hear Martin 
(my "Mart of Spitzbergen ") called "Doctor," it was also 
very charming. 

After luncheon was over, and while coffee was being served, 
the commander sent Treacle to his cabin for a photograph 
of all hands which had been taken when they were at the 
foot ot Mount Erebus; and when it came I was called upon to 
identify one by one, the shaggy, tousled, unkempt, bearded, 
middle-aged men in the picture with the smart, clean-shaven 
young officers who sat round me at the table. 

Naturally I made shockingly bad shots, and the worst of 
them was when I associated Treacle with the commander, 



I FALL IN LOVE 213 

which made the latter rock in his seat and the former shake 
and shout so much that he spilled the coffee. 

' ' But what about the fourth man in the front row from the 
left?" asked the commander. 

"Oh, I should recognise him if I were blindfolded," I 
answered. 

"By what?" 

"By his eyes," I said, and after this truly Irish and fem- 
inine answer the men shrieked with laughter. 

"She's got you there, doc," cried somebody. 

' ' She has sure, ' ' said Martin, who had said very little down 
to that moment, but was looking supremely happy. 

At length the time came for the men to go, and I went up 
on deck to see them off by the launch, and then nobody was 
left on the ship except Martin and myself, with the cook, 
the cabin-boy and a few of the crew, including Treacle. 

I knew that that was the right time to speak, but I was 
too greedy of every moment of happiness to break in on it with 
the story of my troubles, so when Martin proposed to show 
me over the ship, away I went with him to look at the theod- 
olites and chronometers and sextants, and sledges and skis, 
and the aeronautic outfit and the captive balloon, and the 
double-barrelled guns, and the place where they kept the pe- 
troleum and the gun cotton for blasting the ice, and the 
hold forward for the men's provisions in hermetically-sealed 
tins, and the hold aft for the dried fish and biscuit that were 
the food for the Siberian dogs, and the empty cage for the 
dogs themselves, which had just been sent up to the Zoo to 
be taken care of. 

Last of all he showed me his own cabin, which interested 
me more than anything else, being such a snug little place 
(though I thought I should like to tidy it up a bit), with his 
medical outfit, his books, his bed like a shelf, and one pretty 
photograph of his mother's cottage with the roses growing over 
it, that I almost felt as if I would not mind going to the 
Antarctic myself if I could live in such comfortable quarters. 

Two hours passed in this way, though they had flown 
like five minutes, when the cabin-boy came to say that tea 
was served in the saloon, and then I skipped down to it as 
if the ship belonged to me. And no sooner had I screwed 
myself into the commander's chair, which was fixed to the 
floor at the head of the narrow table, and found the tea-tray 
almost on my lap, than a wave of memory from our childhood 



214 THE WOMAN THOU GAVEST ME 

came sweeping back on me, and I could not help giving way 
to the coquetry which lies hidden in every girl 's heart so as to 
find ont how much Martin had been thinking of me. 

"Ill bet you anything," I said, (I had caught Martin's 
style) "you can't remember where you and I first saw each 
other." 

He could it was in the little dimity-white room in his 
mother's house with its sweet-smelling "seraas" under the 
sloping thatch. 

"Well, you don't remember what you were doing when 
we held our first conversation?" 

He did he was standing on his hands with his feet against 
the wall and his inverted head close to the carpet. 

"But you've forgotten what happened nextf " 

He hadn't I had invited William Rufus and himself into 
bed, and they had sat up on either side of me. 

Poor William Rufus! I heard at last what had become of 
him. He had died of distemper soon after I was sent to 
school. His master had buried him in the back-garden, and, 
thinking I should be as sorry as he was for the loss of our 
comrade, he had set up a stone with an inscription in our 
joint names all of his own inditing. It ran he spelled it 
out to me 

"HEBE LICE WILYAM ROOFDS WRECKTED 

BT IZ OLE FREXS MARTIN CONRAD 

AND MARY O'NEILL." 

Two big blinding beads came into my eyes at that story, 
bat they were soon dashed away by Martin who saw them 
coming and broke into the vernacular. I broke into it, too, 
(hardly knowing that the well of my native speech was still 
there until I began to tap it), and we talked of Tommy the 
Mate and his "starboard eye," called each other "bogh 
millish," said things were "middling," spoke of the "threes" 
(trees) and the "tunder" (thunder), and remembered that 
"our Big Woman was a wicked devil and we wouldn't trust 
but she'd burn in helL" 

How we laughed! We laughed at everything; we laughed 
at nothing; we laughed until we cried; but I have often 
thought since that this was partly because we knew in our 
secret hearts that we were always hovering on the edge of 
tragic things. 



I FALL IN LOVE 215 

Martin never once mentioned my husband or my marriage, 
or his letters to my father, the Bishop and Father Dan, which 
had turned out so terribly true; but we had our serious 
moments for all that, and one of them was when we were 
bending over a large chart which he had spread out on the 
table to show me the course of the ship through the Great 
Unknown, leaning shoulder to shoulder, so close that our 
heads almost touched, and I could see myself in his eyes as 
he turned to speak to me. 

" You were a little under the weather yesterday, shipmate 
what was the cause of it? " he asked. 

"Oh, we ... we can talk of that another time, can't 
we?" I answered, and then we both laughed again, goodness 
knows why, unless it was because we felt we were on the verge 
of unlocking the doors of each other's souls. 

Oh that joyful, wonderful, heart-swelling day! But no 
day ever passed so quickly. At half -past six Martin said 
we must be going back, or I should be late for dinner, and a 
few minutes afterwards we were in the launch, which had 
returned to fetch us, 

I had had such a happy time on the ship that as we were 
steaming off I kissed my hand to her, whereupon Treacle, 
who was standing at the top of the companion, taking the 
compliment to himself, returned the salute with affectionate 
interest, which sent Martin and me into our last wild shriek 
of laughter. 

The return trip was just as delightful as the coming out 
had been, everything looking different the other way round, 
for the sunset was like a great celestial fire which had been 
lighted in the western sky, and the big darkening city seemed 
to have turned its face to it. 

Martin talked all the way back about a scheme he had afoot 
for going down to the region of the Pole again in order to 
set up some machinery that was to save life and otherwise 
serve humanity, and while I sat close up to him, looking into 
his flashing eyes they were still as blue as the bluest sea; 
I said, again and again: "How splendid! How glorious! 
"What a great, great thing it will be for the world." 

"Wont it!" he said, and his eyes sparkled like a boy's. 

Thus the time passed without our being aware how it was 
going, and we were back at Westminster Pier before I be- 
thought me that of the sad and serious subject I had intended 
to speak about I had said nothing at all 



216 THE WOMAN THOU GAVEST ME 

But all London seemed to have been taking holiday that 
day, for as we drove in a taxi up Parliament Street streams of 
vehicles full of happy people were returning from the Derby, 
including costers' donkey carts in which the girls were carry- 
ing huge boughs of May blossom, and the boys were wearing 
the girls' feathery hats, and at the top of their lusty lungs they 
were waking the echoes of the stately avenue with the ' ' Honey- 
suckle and the Bee." 

"Yeiv aw the enny, Oi em ther bee, 
Oi'd like ter sip ther enny from those red lips, yew see." 

As we came near our hotel we saw a rather showy four- 
in-hand coach, called the ''Phoebus," drawing up at the 
covered way in front of it, and a lady on top, in a motor 
veil, waving her hand to us. 

It was Alma, with my husband's and Mr. Eastcliff's party 
back from the races, and as soon as we met on the pavement 
she began to pay me high compliments on my improved 
appearance. 

"Didn't I say the river air would do you good, dearest?" 
she said, and then she added something else, which would 
have been very sweet if it had been meant sweetly, about 
there being no surer way to make a girl beautiful than to 
make her happy. 

There was some talk of our dining together that night, 
but I excused myself, and taking leave of Martin, who gave 
my hand a gentle pressure, I ran upstairs without waiting 
for the lift, being anxious to get to my own room that I might 
be alone and go over everything in my mind. 

I did so, ever so many times, recalling all that had been 
said and done by the commander and his comrades, ami even 
by Treacle, but above all by Martin, and laughing softly to 
myself as I lived my day over again in a world of dream. 

My maid came in once or twice, with accounts of the 
gorgeous Derby dinner that was going on downstairs, but that 
did not matter to -me in the least, and as soon as I had 
swallowed a little food I went to bed early partly in order 
to get rid of Price that I might go over everything again and 
yet again. 

I must have done so far into the night, and even when the 
wings of my memory were weary of their fluttering and I was 
dropping off at last, I thought I heard Martin calling "ship- 
mate," and I said "Yes," quite loud, as if he had been with 



I FALL IN LOVE 217 

me still in that vague and beautiful shadow-land which lies 
on the frontier of sleep. 

How mysterious, how magical, how wonderful! 

Looking back I cannot but think it strange that even down 
to that moment I did not really know what was happening 
to me, being only conscious of a great flood of joy. I cannot 
but think it strange that, though Nature had been whispering 
to me for months, I did not know what it had been saying. 
I cannot but think it strange that, though I had been looking 
for love so long without finding it, I did not recognise it 
immediately when it had come to me of itself. 

But when I awoke early in the morning, very early, while 
the sunrise was filling my bedroom with a rosy flush, and' the 
thought of Martin was the first that was springing from the 
mists of sleep to my conscious mind, and I was asking myself 
how it happened that I was feeling so glad, while I had so 
many causes for grief, then suddenly suddenly as the sun 
streams through the cloud-scud over the sea I knew that 
what had long been predestined had happened, that the 
wondrous new birth, the great revelation, the joyous mystery 
which comes to every happy woman in the world had come 
at last to me. 

I was in love. 

I was in love with Martin Conrad. 

FIFTY-SECOND CHAPTER 

MY joy was short-lived. No sooner had I become aware that 
I loved Martin Conrad, than my conscience told me I had no 
right to do so. I was married, and to love another than my 
husband was sin. 

It would be impossible to say with what terror this thought 
possessed me. It took all the sunlight out of my sky, which 
a moment before had seemed so bright. It came on me like a 
storm of thunder and lightning, sweeping my happiness into 
the abyss. 

All my religion, everything I had been taught about the 
sanctity of the sacrament of marriage seemed to rise up and 
accuse me. It was not that I was conscious of any sin against 
my husband. I was thinking only of my sin against God. 

The first effect was to make me realise that it was no longer 
passible for me to speak to Martin about my husband and 



218 THE WOMAN THOU GAVEST ME 

Alma. To do this now that I knew I loved him would be 
deceitful, mean, almost treacherous. 

The next effect was to make me see that all thought of a 
separation must now be given up. How could I accuse my 
husband when I was myself in the same position? If he 
loved another woman, I loved another man. 

In my distress and fright I saw only one means of escape 
either from the filthy burden to which I was bound or the 
consciousness of a sinful heart, and that was to cure myself of 
my passion. I determined to do so. I determined to fight 
against my love for Martin Conrad, to conquer it and to 
crush it. 

My first attempt to do this was feeble enough. It was an 
effort to keep myself out of the reach of temptation by refus- 
ing to see Martin alone. 

For three or four days I did my best to carry out this 
purpose, making one poor excuse after another, when (as 
happened several times a day) he came down to see me that 
I was just going out or had just come in, or was tired or 
unwell. 

It was tearing my heart out to deny myself so, but I think 
I could have borne the pain if I had not realised that I was 
causing pain to him also. 

My maid, whose head was always running on Martin, would 
come back to my room, after delivering one of my lying 
excuses, and say: 

"You should have seen his face, when I told him you were 
ill. It was just as if I 'd driven a knife into him. " 

Everybody seemed to be in a conspiracy to push me into 
Martin's arms Alma above all others. Being a woman she 
read my secret, and I could see from the first that she wished 
to justify her own conduct in relation to my husband by 
putting me into the same position with Martin. 

"Seen Mr. Conrad to-day?" she would ask. 

"Not to-day," I would answer. 

"Really? And you such old friends! And staying in the 
same hotel, too!" 

When she saw that I was struggling hard she reminded 
my husband of his intention of asking Martin to dinner, and 
thereupon a night was fixed and a party invited. 

Martin came, and I was only too happy to meet him in 
company, though the pain and humiliation of the contrast 
between him and my husband and his friends, and the differ- 



I FALL IN LOVE 219 

enee of the atmosphere in which he lived from that to which 
I thought I was doomed for ever, was almost more than I 
could bear. 

I think they must have felt it themselves, for though their 
usual conversation was of horses and dogs and race-meetings, 
I noticed they were silent while Martin in his rugged, racy 
poetic way (for all explorers are poets) talked of the beauty 
of the great Polar night, the cloudless Polar day, the midnight 
calm and the moonlight on the glaciers, which was the love- 
liest, weirdest, most desolate, yet most entrancing light the 
world could show. 

' ' I wonder you don 't think of going back to the Antarctic, 
if it 's so fascinating, ' ' said Alma. 

"I do. Bet your life I do, ' ' said Martin, and then he told 
them what he had told me on the launch, but more fully and 
even more rapturously the story of his great scheme for 
saving life and otherwise benefiting humanity. 

For hundreds of years man, prompted merely by the love of 
adventure, the praise of achievement, and the desire to know 
the globe he lived on, had been shouldering his way to the 
hitherto inviolable regions of the Poles; but now the time 
had come to turn his knowledge to account. 

' ' How ? ' ' said my husband. 

"By putting himself into such a position," said Martin, 
' ' that he will be able to predict, six, eight, ten days ahead, the 
weather of a vast part of the navigable and habitable world 
by establishing installations of wireless telegraphy as near as 
possible to the long ice-barrier about the Pole from which 
ice-floes and icebergs and blizzards come, so that we can say 
in ten minutes from the side of Mount Erebus to half the 
southern hemisphere, 'Look out. It's coming down,' and 
thus save millions of lives from shipwreck, and hundreds of 
millions of money." 

"Splendid, by Jove!" said Mr. Eastcliff. 

"Yes, ripping, by jingo!" said Mr. Vivian. 

"A ridiculous dream!" muttered my husband, but not 
until Martin had gone, and then Alma, seeing that I was all 
aglow, said: 

"What a lovely man ! I wonder you don't see more of him, 
Mary, my love. He '11 be going to the ends of the earth soon, 
and then you'll be sorry you missed the chance." 

Her words hurt me like the sting of a wasp, but I could not 
resist them, and when some days later Martin called to take 



220 THE WOMAN THOU GAVEST ME 

me to the Geographical Society, where his commander, Lieu- 
tenant was to give an account of their expedition, 

I could not find it in my heart to refuse to go. 

Oh, the difference of this world from that in which I had 
been living for the past six months ! All that was best in Eng- 
land seemed to be there, the men who were doing the work of 
the world, and the women who were their wives and partners. 

The theatre was like the inside of a dish, and I sat by 
Martin 's side on the bottom row of seats, just in front of the 
platform and face to face with the commander. 

His lecture, which was illustrated by many photographic 
lantern slides of the exploring party, (including the one that 
had been shown to me on the ship) was very interesting, but 
terribly pathetic; and when he described the hardships they 
had gone through in a prolonged blizzard on a high plateau, 
with food and fuel running low, and no certainty that they 
would ever see home again, I found myself feeling for Martin 's 
hand to make sure that he was there. 

Towards the end the commander spoke very modestly of 
himself, saying he could never have reached the 87th parallel 
if he had not had a crew of the finest comrades that ever 
sailed on a ship. 

"And though they're all splendid fellows," he said, 
"there's one I can specially mention without doing any wrong 
to the rest, and that's the young doctor of our expedition 
Martin Conrad. Martin has a scheme of his own for going 
down to the Antarctic again to make a great experiment in 
the interests of humanity, and if and when he goes I say, ' Good 
luck to him and God bless him!' ' 

At these generous words there was much applause, during 
which Martin sat blushing like a big boy when he is intro- 
duced to the girl friends of his sister. 

As for me I did not think any speech could have been so 
beautiful, and I felt as if I could have cried for joy. 

When I got back to the hotel I did cry, but it was for 
another reason. I was thinking of my father and wondering 
why he did not wait. 

"Why, why, why?" I asked myself. 

FIFTY-THIRD CHAPTER 

NEXT day, Martin came rushing down to my sitting-room with 
a sheaf of letters in his hand, saying: 



I FALL IN LOVE 221 

"That was jolly good of the boss, but look what he has let 
me in for?" 

They were requests from various newspapers for portraits 
and interviews, and particularly from one great London 
journal for a special article to contain an account of the 
nature and object of the proposed experiment. 

"What am I to do?" he said. "I'm all right for stringing 
gabble, but I couldn't write anything to save my soul. Now, 
you could. I'm sure you could. You could write like 
Robinson Crusoe. Why shouldn't you write the article and 
I'll tell you what to put into it?" 

There was no resisting that. And down at the bottom of 
my secret heart I was glad of the excuse to my conscience 
that I could not any longer run away from Martin because 
I was necessary to help him. 

So we sat together all day long, and though it was like 
shooting the rapids to follow Martin's impetuous and imagi- 
native speech, I did my best to translate his disconnected out- 
bursts into more connected words, and when the article was 
written and read aloud to him he was delighted. 

"Stunning! Didn't I say you could write like Robinson 
Crusoe?" 

In due course it was published and made a deep impression, 
for wherever I went people were talking of it, and though some 
said ' ' Fudge ! ' ' and others, like my husband, said ' ' Dreams ! ' ' 
the practical result was that the great newspaper started a 
public subscription with the object of providing funds for the 
realisation of Martin's scheme. 

This brought him an immense correspondence, so that every 
morning he came down with an armful of letters and piteous 
appeals to me to help him to reply to them. 

I knew it would be dangerous to put myself in the way of 
so much temptation, but the end of it was that day after day 
we sat together in my sitting-room, answering the inquiries 
of the sceptical, the congratulations of the convinced, and the 
offers of assistance that came from people who wished to join 
in the expedition. 

What a joy it was ! It was like the dawn of a new life to me. 
But the highest happiness of all was to protect Martin against 
himself, to save him from his over-generous impulses in a 
word, to mother him. 

Many of the letters he received were mere mendicancy. 
He was not rich, yet he could not resist a pitiful appeal, 



THE WOMAN THOU GAVEST ME 

especially if it came from a woman, and it was as much as I 
could do to restrain him from mining himself. 

Sometimes I would see him smuggle a letter into his side 
pocket, with 

"H*m! That wfll do later." 

"What is it?'* I would ask. 

"Oh, nothing, nothing!" he would answer. 

'"Hand it out, sir," I would say. and then I would find a 
fierce delight in sending six freeong words of refusal to some 
impudent woman who was trying to play upon the tender side 
of my big-hearted hoy. 

Oh, it was delightful! My whole being seemed to be re- 
newed. If only the dear sweet hours could go on and on 
forerer! 

Sometimes my husband and Alma would look in upon us 
at our work, and then, while the colour mounted to my eyes, 
Martin would say : 

"I'm fishing with another man's floats, you see." 

"I see," my husband would reply, fixing his monocle and 
showing his front teeth in a painful grin. 

"Just what dear Mary lores, though," Ahna would say. 
"I do believe she would rather be sitting in this sunless room. 
writing letters for Mr. Conrad, than wearing her coronet at a 
King's coronation:" 

"Just so, ma'am; there are women like that," Martin 
would answer, looking hard at her; and when she had gone, 
(laughing lightly but with the frightened look I had seen 
before) he would say, as if speaking to himself: 

"I hate that woman. She's like a snake. I feel as if I 
want to put my foot on it." 

At length the climax came, One day Martin rushed down- 
stairs almost beside himself in his boyish joy, to say that all 
the money he needed had been subscribed, and that in honour 
of the maturing of the scheme the proprietor of the newspaper 
was to give a public luncheon at one of the hotels, and though 
no lAmen were to be present at the "feed" a few ladies were 
to occupy seats in a gallery, and I was to be one of them. 

I had played with my temptation too long by this time to 
shrink from the dangerous exaltation which I knew the occa- 
sion would cause, so when the day came I went to the hotel 
in a fever of pleasure and pride. 

The luncheon was nearly over, the speeches were about to 
begin, and the ladies' gallery was buzzing like a hive of bees, 



when I took my seat in it. Two bright young American 
women sitting next to me were almost as excited as myself, 
and looking down at the men through a pair of opera-glasses 
they were asking each other which was Martin, whereupon 
my vanity, not to speak of my sense of possession, was so lifted 
np that I pointed him oat to them, and then borrowed their 
glasses to look at the chairman. 

He seemed to me to have that light of imagination in his 
eyes which was always blazing in Martin's, and when he 
began to speak I thought I caught the note of the same wild 
passion. 

He said they were that day opening a new chapter in the 
wonderful book of man's story, and though the dangers of the 
great deep might never be entirely overcome, and the wind 
would continue to blow as it listed, yet the perils of the one 
and the movements of the other were going to be known to, 
and therefore checked by, the human family. 

After that, and a beautiful tribute to Martin as a man, (that 
everybody who had met him had come to love him, and that 
there must be something in the great solitudes of the silent 
white world to make men simple and strong and great, as the 
sea made them staunch and true) he drank to the success of 
the expedition, and called on Martin to respond to the toast. 

There was a great deal of cheering when Martin rose, but 
I was so nervous that I hardly heard it He was nervous too, 
as I could plainly see, for after a few words of thunfcy, he 
began to fumble the sheets of a speech which he and I had 
prepared together, trying to read it, but losing his place and 
even dropping his papers. 

Beads of perspiration were starting from my forehead and 
I knew I was making noises in my throat, when all at once 
Martin threw his papers on the table and said, in quite another 
voice: 

"Ship-mates, I mean gentlemen, I never could write a 
speech in my life, and you see I can't read one, but I know 
what I want to say and if you 11 take it as it comes here goes." 

Then in the simple style of a sailor, not always even gram- 
matical yet splendidly clear and bold and natural, blundering 
along as he used to do when he was a boy at school and could 
not learn his lessons, but with his blue eyes ablaze, he told of 
his aims and his expectations. 

And when he came to the end he said: 

"His lordship, the chairman, has said something about the 



224 THE WOMAN THOU GAYEST ME 

good effects of the solitudes of Nature on a man's character. 
I can testify to that. And I tell you this whatever you are 
when you're up here and have everything you want, it's 
wonderful strange the way you're asking the Lord to stretch 
out His hand and help you when you 're down there, all alone 
and with an empty hungry stomach. 

"I don't know where you were last Christmas Day, ship- 
mates ... I mean gentlemen, but I know where I was. I 
was in the 85th latitude, longitude 163, four miles south and 
thirty west of Mount Darwin. It was my own bit of an 
expedition that my commander has made too much of, and 
I believe in my heart my mates had had enough of it. Wfcen 
we got out of our sleeping bags that morning there was 
nothing in sight but miles and miles of rolling waves of snow, 
seven thousand feet up on a windy plateau, with glaciers full 
of crevasses shutting us off from the sea, and not a living thing 
in sight as far as the eye could reach. 

"We were six in company and none of us were too good for 
Paradise, and one he was an old Wapping sailor, we called 
him Treacle had the name of being a shocking old rip ashore. 
But we remembered what day it was, and we wanted to feel 
that we weren't cut off entirely from the world of Christian 
men our brothers and sisters who would be going to church 
at home. So I dug out my little prayer-book that my mother 
put in my kit going away, and we all stood round bare-headed 
in the snow a shaggy old lot I can tell you, with chins that 
hadn't seen a razor for a month and I read the prayers for 
the day, the first and second Vespers, and Laudate Dominum 
and then the De Profundis. 

"I think we felt better doing that, but they say the comical 
and the tragical are always chasing each other, which can get 
in first, and it was so with us, for just as I had got to an end 
with the solemn words, ' Out of the depths we cry unto thee, 
Lord, Lord hear our cry, ' in jumps old Treacle in his thickest 
cockney, 'And Gawd bless our pore ole wives and sweethearts 
fur a-wye.' ' 

If Martin said any more nobody heard it. The men below 
were blowing their noses, and the women in the gallery were 
crying openly. 

"Well, the man who can talk like that may open all my 
letters and telegrams, ' ' said one of the young American women, 
who was wiping her eyes without shame. 

What I was doing, and what I was looking like, I did not 



I FALL IN LOVE 225 

know until the lady, who had lent me the opera-glasses leaned 

over to me and said : 

"Excuse me, but are you his wife, may I ask?" 
"Oh no, no," I said nervously and eagerly, but only God 

knows how the word went through and through me. 

I had taken the wrong course, and I knew it. My pride, 

my joy, my happiness were all accusing me, and when I went 

to bed that night I felt as if I had been a guilty woman. 

FIFTY-FOURTH CHAPTER 

I TRIED to take refuge in religion. Every day and all day 
I humbly besought the pardon of heaven for the sin of loving 
Martin Conrad. 

The little religious duties which I had neglected, since my 
marriage (such as crossing myself at rising from the table) I 
began to observe afresh, and being reminded by Martin's story 
that I had promised my mother to say a De Profundis for 
her occasionally I now said one every day. I thought these 
exercises would bring me a certain relief, but they did not. 

I searched my Missal for words that applied to my sinful 
state, and every night on going to bed I prayed to God to take 
from me all unholy thoughts, all earthly affections. But 
what was the use of my prayers when in the first dream of 
the first sleep I was rushing into Martin's arms? 

It was true that my love for Martin was what the world 
would call a pure love; it had no alloy of any kind; but all 
the same I thought I was living in a condition of adultery 
adultery of the heart. 

Early every morning I went to mass, but the sense I used 
to have of returning from the divine sacrifice to the ordinary 
occupations of life with a new spirit and a clean heart I 
could feel no longer. 

I went oftener to confession than I had done before twice 
a week to begin with, then every other day, then every day. 
But the old joy, the sense of purity and cleansing, did not 
come. I thought at first the fault might be with my Con- 
fessor, for though I knew I was in the presence of God, the 
whispering voice behind the grating, which used to thrill 
me with a feeling of the supernatural, was that of a young 
man, and I asked myself what a young priest could know 
by experience of the deep temptations of human love. 

This was at the new Cathedral at Westminster, so I changed 



226 THE WOMAN THOU GAVEST ME 

to a little Catholic church in a kind of mews in Mayfair, and 
there my Confessor was an older man whose quivering voice 
seemed to search the very depths of my being. He was 
deeply alarmed at my condition and counselled me to pray to 
God night and day to strengthen me against temptation. 

"The Evil One is besieging your soul, my child," he said. 
"Fight with him, my daughter." 

I tried to follow my ghostly father's direction, but how 
hard it was to do so! Martin had only to take my hand 
and look into my eyes and all my good resolutions were gone 
in a moment. 

As a result of the fierce struggle between my heart and 
my soul my health began to fail me. From necessity now, 
and not from design, I had to keep my room, but even there 
my love for Martin was always hanging like a threatening 
sword over my head. 

My maid Price was for ever singing his praises. He was 
so bright, so cheerful, so strong, so manly; in fact, he was 
perfect, and any woman in the world might be forgiven if 
she fell in love with him. 

Her words were like music in my ears, and sometimes I 
felt as if I wanted to throw my arms about her neck and 
kiss her. But at other moments I reproved her, telling her 
it was very wicked of her to think so much of the creature 
instead of fixing her mind on the Creator a piece of counsel 
which made Price, who was all woman, open her sparkling 
black eyes in bewilderment. 

Nearly every morning she brought me a bunch of flowers, 
which Martin had bought at Covent Garden, all glittering 
from the sunshine and damp with the dew. I loved to have 
them near me, but, finding they tempted me to think more 
tenderly of him who sent them, I always contrived by one 
excuse or another to send them into the sitting-room that they 
might be out of my sight at all events. 

After a while Price, remembering my former artifice, be- 
gan to believe that I was only pretending to be ill, in order 
to draw Martin on, and then taking a certain liberty with me, 
as with a child, she reproved me. 

"If I were a lady I couldn't have the heart," she said, 
"I really couldn't. It's all very well for us women, but 
men don't understand such ways. They're only children, 
men are, when you come to know them." 

I began to look upon poor Price as a honeyed fiend sent 



I FALL IN LOVE 227 

by Satan to seduce me, and to say the truth, she sometimes 
acted up to the character. One day she said: 

"If I was tied to a man I didn't love, and who didn't love 
me, and somebody else, worth ten of him was ready and 
waiting, I would take the sweet with the bitter, I would. We 
women must follow our hearts, and why shouldn't wet" 

Then I scolded her dreadfully, asking if she had forgotten 
that she was speaking to her mistress, and a married woman ; 
but all the while I knew that it was myself, not my maid, I 
was angry with, for she had only been giving voice to the 
thoughts that were secretly tormenting me. 

I had been in bed about a week when Price came with a 
letter in her hand and a look of triumph in her black eyes 
and said: 

"There, my lady! What did I tell you! You've had 
it all your own way and now you've driven him off. He has 
left the hotel and gone to live on his ship." 

This frightened me terribly, and partly for that reason I 
ordered her out of the room, telling her she must leave me 
altogether if she ever took such liberties again. But I'm 
sure she saw me, as she was going through the door, take up 
Martin's letter, which I had thrown on to the table, and 
press it to my lips. 

The letter was of no consequence. It was merely to tell 
me that he was going down to Tilbury for a few days, to 
take possession of his old ship in the name of his company, 
but it said in a postscript : 

"If there's anything I can do for you, pass me the word 
and I'll come up like quick-sticks." 

"What can I do? What can I do?" I thought. Every- 
thing my heart desired my soul condemned as sinful, and 
religion had done nothing to liberate me from the pains of 
my guilty passion. 

AH this time my husband and Alma were busy with the 
gaieties of the London season, which was then in full swing, 
with the houses in Mayfair being ablaze every night, the 
blinds up and the windows open to cool the overheated rooms 
in which men and women could be seen dancing in closely- 
packed crowds. 

One night, after Alma and my husband had gone to a 
reception in Grosvenor Square, I had a sudden attack of 
heart-strain and had to be put to bed, whereupon Price, who 



228 THE WOMAN THOU GAYEST ME 

had realised that I was really ill, told Hobson, my husband's 
valet, to go after his master and bring him back immediately. 

"It'll be all as one, but I'll go if you like," said Hobson. 

In half an hour he came back with my husband's answer, 
"Send for a doctor." 

This put Price into a fever of mingled anger and per- 
plexity, and not knowing what else to do she telegraphed to 
Martin on his ship, telling him that I was ill and asking what 
doctor she ought to call in to see me. . 

Inside an hour a reply came not from Tilbury but from 
Portsmouth saying : 

' ' Call Doctor of Brook Street. Am coming up at once. ' ' 

All this I heard for the first time when Price, with another 
triumphant look, came into my bedroom flourishing Martin's 
telegram as something she had reason to be proud of. 

"You don't mean to say that you telegraphed to Mr. 
Conrad?" I said. 

"Why not?" said Price. "When a lady is ill and her 
husband pays no attention to her, and there's somebody else 
not far off who would give his two eyes to save her a pain 
in her little finger, what is a woman to do?" 

I told her what she was not to do. She was not to call the 
doctor under any circumstances, and when Martin came she 
was to make it plain to him that she had acted on her own 
responsibility. 

Towards midnight he arrived, and Price brought him into 
my room in a long ulster covered with dust. I blushed and 
trembled at sight of him, for his face betrayed the strain 
and anxiety he had gone through on my account, and when 
he smiled at seeing that I was not as ill as he had thought, 
I was ashamed to the bottom of my heart. 

"You'll be sorry you've made such a long journey now 
that you see there's so little amiss with me," I said. 

"Sorry?" he said. "By the holy saints, I would take a 
longer one every night of my life to see you looking so well 
at the end of it." 

His blue eyes were shining like the sun from behind a 
cloud, and the cruellest looks could not have hurt me more. 

I tried to keep my face from expressing the emotion I de- 
sired to conceal, and asked if he had caught a train easily 
from Portsmouth, seeing he had arrived so early. 

"No. Oh no, there was no train up until eleven o'clock," 
he said. 



I FALL IN LOVE 229 

"Then how did you get here so soon?" I asked, and 
though he would not tell me at first I got it out of him at 
last he had hired a motor-car and travelled the ninety 
miles to London in two hours and a half. 

That crushed me. I could not speak. I thought I should 
have choked. Lying there with Martin at arm's length of 
me, I was afraid of myself, and did not know what I might 
do next. But at last, with a great effort to control myself, I 
took his hand and kissed it, and then turned my face to the 
wall. 

FIFTY-FIFTH CHAPTER 

THAT was the beginning of the end, and when, next day 
towards noon, my husband came with drowsy eyes to make 
a kind of ungracious apology, saying he supposed the doctor 
had been sent for, I said: 

"James, I want you to take me home." 

"Home? You mean . . . Castle Raa?" 

"Y-es." 

He hesitated, and I began to plead with him, earnestly 
and eagerly, not to deny me what I asked. 

"Take me home, I beg, I pray." 

At length, seeming to think I must be homesick, he said : 

' ' "Well, you know my views about that God-forsaken place ; 
but the season's nearly at an end, and I don't mind going 
back on one condition that you raise no objection to my 
inviting a few friends to liven it up a bit?" 

"It is your house," I said. "You must do as you please 
in it." 

"Very good; that's settled," he said, getting up to go. 
* ' And I dare say it will do you no harm to be out of the way of 
all this church-going and confessing to priests, who are always 
depressing people even when they're not making mischief." 

Hardly had my husband left me when Alma came into my 
sitting-room in the most affectionate and insincere of her 
moods. 

"My poor, dear sweet child," she said. "If I'd had the 
least idea you were feeling so badly I shouldn't have al- 
lowed Jimmy to stay another minute at that tiresome recep- 
tion. But how good it was of Mr. Conrad to come all that 
way to see you! That's what I call being a friend now!" 

Then came the real object of her visit I saw it coming. 

"I hear you're to have a house-party at Castle Raa. 



230 THE WOMAN THOU GAVEST ME 

Jimmy's in his room writing piles of invitations. He has 
asked me and I should love to go, but of course I cannot do 
so without you wish it. Do you?" 

What could I say? What I did say I scarcely know. I 
only know that at the next minute Alma's arms were round 
my neck, and she was saying: 

"You dear, sweet, unselfish little soul! Come let me kiss 
you." 

It was done. I had committed myself. After all what 
right had I to raise myself on a moral pinnacle now? And 
what did it matter, anyway? I was flying from the danger 
of my own infidelities, not to save my husband from his. 

Price had been in the room during this interview and 
when it was over I was ashamed to look at her. 

' ' I can 't understand you, my lady : I really can 't, ' ' she said. 

Next day I wrote a little letter to Martin on the Scotia 
telling him of our change of plans, but forbidding him to 
trouble to come up to say good-bye, yet half hoping he would 
disregard my injunction. 

He did. Before I left my bedroom next morning I heard 
his voice in the sitting-room talking to Price, who with con- 
siderable emphasis was giving her views of Alma. 

When I joined him I thought his face (which had grown 
to be very powerful) looked hard and strained ; but his voice 
was as soft as ever while he said I was doing right in going 
home and that my native air must be good for me. 

"But what's this Price tells me that Madame is going 
with you?" 

I tried to make light of that, but I broke down badly, for 
his eyes were on me, and I could see that he thought I was 
concealing the truth. 

For some minutes he looked perplexed, as if trying to 
understand how it came to pass that sickening;, as he believed 
I was, at the sight of my husband's infidelities I was yet 
carrying the provocative cause of them away with me, and 
then he said again: 

"I hate that woman. She's like a snake. I feel as if I 
want to put my foot on it. I mil, too, one of these days 
bet your life I will." 

It hurt me to hide anything from him, but how could I 
tell him that it was not from Alma I was flying but from 
himself ? 

When the day came for our departure I hoped I might get 



I FALL IN LOVE 231 

away without seeing Martin again. We did get out of the 
hotel and into the railway station, yet no sooner was I seated 
in the carriage than (in the cruel war that was going on within 
me) I felt dreadfully down that he was not there to see me off. 

But at the very last moment, just as Alma with her spaniel 
under her arm, and my husband with his terrier on a strap, 
were about to step into the train, up came Martin like a 
gust of mountain wind. 

"Helloa!" he cried. "I shall be seeing you soon. 
Everything's settled about the expedition. We're to sail 
the first week in September, so as to get the summer months 
in the Antarctic. But before that I must go over to the 
island to say good-bye to the old folks, and I'll see you at 
your father's I suppose." 

Then Alma gave my husband a significant glance and said : 

"But, Mary, my love, wouldn't it be better for Mr. Conrad 
to come to Castle Raa? You won't be able to go about very 
much. Remember your delicate condition, you know." 

"Of course, why of course," said my husband. "That's 
quite true, and if Mr. Conrad will do me the honour to 
accept my hospitality for a few days . . . ' 

It was what I wanted above everything on earth, and yet 
I said: 

"No, no! It wouldn't be fair. Martin will be too busy 
at the last moment." 

But Martin himself jumped in eagerly with: 

"Certainly! Delighted! Greatest pleasure in the world." 

And then, while Alma gave my husband a look of arch 
triumph to which he replied with a painful smile, Martin 
leaned over to me and whispered: 

"Hush! I want to! I must!" though what he meant 
by that I never knew. 

He continued to look at me with a tender expression until 
we said good-bye; but after the carriage door had been 
closed and the engine had throbbed, and the guard had 
whistled, I thought I had never seen his strong face so stern 
as when the train moved from the platform. 

FIFTY-SIXTH CHAPTER 

WE reached Elian towards the close of the following day. 
It was the height of the holiday season, and the island 
seemed to be ablaze with lights. 



232 THE WOMAN THOU GAVEST ME 

Two motor-cars were waiting for us at the pier, and in a 
little while we were driving out of Blackwater through con- 
gested masses of people who were rambling aimlessly through 
the principal streets. 

Our way was across a stone bridge that crossed the harbour 
at its inner end, and then up a hill that led to a headland 
overlooking the sea. Within half an hour we drew up at 
a pair of large gate posts which were much decayed and 
leaning heavily out of the perpendicular. 

The chauffeur of the first of our cars got down to open 
the gate, and after it had clashed to behind us, we began to 
ascend a very steep drive that was bordered by tall elm. trees. 
It was now almost dark, and the rooks, which had not yet gone 
off to the mountains, were making their evening clamour. 

"Well, my dear, you're at home at last, and much good 
may it do you, ' ' said my husband. 

I made no answer to this ungracious speech, but Alma was 
all excitement. 

"So this is Castle Raa! What a fascinating old place!" 
she said, and as we drove through the park she reached out 
of the car to catch a first glimpse of the broad terraces and 
winding ways to the sea which had been reflected in her 
memory since she was a child. 

I felt no such anxiety. Never did a young bride approach 
the home of her husband with less curiosity, but as our 
motor-car toiled up the drive I could not help seeing the 
neglected condition of the land, with boughs of trees lying 
where they had fallen in the storms, as well as broken gates 
half off their hinges and swinging to the wind. 

The house itself, when we came in sight of it, was a large 
castellated building with many lesser turrets and one lofty 
octagonal tower, covered entirely with ivy, which, being 
apparently unshorn for years, hung in long trailers down the 
walls, and gave the w r hole pile the appearance of a huge 
moss-covered rock of the sea planted on a promontory of 
the land. 

As our car went thundering up to the great hall door 
nearly the whole of the servants and some of the tenant 
farmers (under the direction of the tall, sallow man who had 
been my husband's guardian in former days, and was now his 
steward) were waiting to welcome us, as well as Lady Mar- 
garet Anselm, who was still reserved and haughty in her 
manner, though pleasant enough with me. 



I FALL IN LOVE 233 

My husband nodded to all, shook hands with some, pre- 
sented Alma to his aunt as "one of Mary's old school 
friends," (a designation which, as I could see, had gone 
ahead of her) and then we passed into the house. 

I found the inside corresponded with the outside in its 
appearance of neglect and decay, the big square hall having 
rusty and disjointed armour on its wainscotted walls and 
the mark of water on the floor, which had come from a glass 
dome over the well of the stairs, for it had rained while we 
were on the sea. 

The drawing-room had faded curtains over the windows, 
faded velvet on the square sofa and stiff chairs, faded car- 
pets, faded samplers, and faded embroidery on faded screens. 

The dining-room (the sedate original of my father's rather 
garish copy) was a panelled chamber, hung round with 
rubicund portraits of the male O'Neills from the early ones 
of the family who had been Lords of Elian down to the 
"bad Lord Raa," who had sworn at my grandmother on 
the high road. 

I felt as if no woman could have made her home here for 
at least a hundred years, and I thought the general atmos- 
phere of the house was that of the days when spendthrift 
noblemen, making the island a refuge from debt, spent their 
days in gambling and their nights in drinking bumpers from 
bowls of whiskey punch, to the nameless beauties they had 
left "in town." 

They were all gone, all dead as the wood of the worm- 
eaten wainscotting, but the sound of their noisy merry- 
making seemed to cling to the rafters still, and as I went up 
to my rooms the broad oaken staircase seemed to be creak- 
ing under their drunken footsteps. 

My own apartments, to which Lady Margaret conducted 
me, were on the southern side of the house a rather stuffy 
bedroom with walls covered by a kind of pleated chintz, and 
a boudoir with a stone balcony that had a flight of steps 
going down to a terrace of the garden, which overlooked 
a glen and had a far view of the sea. 

On the opposite side of the landing outside (which was not 
immediately off the great staircase though open to the view 
of it) there was a similar suite of rooms which I thought 
might be my husband's, but I was told they were kept for 
a guest. 

Being left alone I had taken off my outer things and was 



234 THE WOMAN THOU GAYEST ME 

standing on my balcony, listening to the dull hum of the 
water in the glen, the rustle of the trees above it, the surge 
of the sea on the rocks below, the creaking of a rusty 
weathercock and the striking of a court-yard clock, when I also 
heard the toot and throb of another motor-car, and as soon 
as it came up I saw that it contained Aunt Bridget in the 
half-moon bonnet and Betsy Beauty, who was looking more 
than ever like a country belle. 

When I went down to the drawing-room Lady Margaret 
was pouring out tea for them, and at sight of me Aunt 
Bridget cried; 

"Sakes alive, here she is herself !" 

"But how pale and pinched and thin!" said Betsy Beauty. 

"Nonsense, girl, that's only natural," said my Aunt 
Bridget, with something like a wink; and then she went 
on to say that she had just been telling her ladyship that if 
I felt lonely and a little helpless on first coming home Betsy 
would be pleased to visit me. 

Before I could reply my husband came in, followed shortly 
by Alma, who was presented as before, as "Mary's old 
school-fellow ' ' ; and then, while Betsy talked to Alma and my 
husband to his kinswoman, Aunt Bridget, in an undertone, 
addressed herself to me. 

"You're that way, aren't you? ... No? Goodness me, 
girl, your father will be disappointed!" 

Just then a third motor-car came throbbing up to the 
house, and Betsy who was standing by the window cried : 

"It's Uncle Daniel with Mr. Curphy and Nessy. " 

"Nessy, of course," said Aunt Bridget grumpily, and 
then she told me in a confidential whisper that she was a 
much-injured woman in regard to "that ungrateful step- 
daughter," who was making her understand the words of 
Scripture about the pang that was sharper than a serpent's 
tooth. 

As the new-comers entered I saw that Nessy had developed 
an old maid's idea of smartness, and that my father's lawyer 
was more than ever like an over-fatted fish; but my father 
himself (except that his hair was whiter) was the same man 
still, with the same heavy step, the same loud voice and the 
same tempestuous gaiety. 

"All here? Good! Glad to be home, I guess! Strong 
and well and hearty, I suppose? . . . Yes, sir, yes! I'm 
middling myself, sir. Middling, sir, middling!" 



I FALL IN LOVE 235 

During these rugged salutations I saw that Alma, with 
the bad manners of a certain type of society woman, looked 
on with a slightly impertinent air of amused superiority, 
until she encountered my father's masterful eyes, which 
nobody in the world could withstand. 

After a moment my father addressed himself to me. 

"Well, gel," he said, taking me by the shoulders, as he 
did in Rome, "you must have cut a dash in Egypt, I guess. 
Made the money fly, didn't you? No matter! My gold 
was as good as anybody else 's, and I didn 't grudge it. You 11 
clear me of that, anyway." 

Then there was some general talk about our travels, about 
affairs on the island (Mr. Curphy saying, with a laugh and 
a glance in my direction, that things were going so well with 
my father that if all his schemes matured he would have 
no need to wait for a descendant to become the "uncrowned 
King of Elian"), and finally about Martin Conrad, whose 
great exploits had become known even in his native country. 

"Extraordinary! Extraordinary!" said my father. "I 
wouldn't have believed it of him, I wouldn't really. Just a 
neighbour lad without a penny at him. And now the 
world's trusting him with fifty thousand pounds, they're 
telling me!" 

"Well, many are called but few are chosen, " said Mr. 
Curphy with another laugh. 

After that, and some broken conversation, Aunt Bridget 
expressed a desire to see the house, as the evening was clos- 
ing in and they must soon be going back. 

Lady Margaret thereupon took her, followed by the rest 
of us, over the principal rooms of the Castle; and it was 
interesting to see the awe with which she looked upon every- 
thing her voice dropping to a whisper in the dining-room, 
I remember, as if the scene of carousing of the old roysterers 
had been a sort of sanctuary. 

My father, less impressed, saw nothing but a house in bad 
repair, and turning to my husband, who had been obviously 
ill at ease, he said: 

"Go on like this much longer, son-in-law, and you'll be 
charging two-pence a head to look at your ruins. Guess I 
must send my architect over to see what he can do for you. ' ' 

Then taking me aside he made his loud voice as low as 
he could and said: 

"What's this your Aunt Bridget tells me? Nine months 



236 THE WOMAN THOU GAYEST ME 

married and no sign yet? Tut, tut! That won't do, gel, 
that won't do." 

I tried to tell him not to spend money on the Castle if he 
intended to do so in expectation of an heir, but my heart 
was in my mouth and what I really said I do not know. I 
only know that my father looked at me for a moment as if 
perplexed, and then burst into laughter. 

"I see! I see!" he said. "It's a doctor you want. I 
must send Conrad to put a sight on you. It'll be all right, 
gel, it'll be all right! Your mother \vas like that when you 
were coming." 

As we returned to the hall Betsy Beauty whispered that 
she was surprised Mr. Eastcliff had married, but she heard 
from Madame that we were to have a house-party soon, and 
she hoped I would not forget her. 

Then Aunt Bridget, who had been eyeing Alma darkly, 
asked me who and what she was and where she came from, 
whereupon I (trying to put the best face on things) ex- 
plained that she was the daughter of a rich New York 
banker. After that Aunt Bridget's countenance cleared per- 
ceptibly and she said: 

"Ah, yes, of course! I thought she had a quality toss 
with her.'* 

The two motor-cars had been drawn up to the door, and 
the two parties had taken their seats in them when my 
father, looking about him, said to my husband: 

"Your garden is as rough as a thornbush, son-in-law. I 
must send Tommy the Mate to smarten it up a bit. So 
long! So long!" 

At the next moment they were gone, and I was looking 
longingly after them. God knows my father's house had 
never been more than a stepmother's home to me, but at that 
moment I yearned to return to it and felt like a child who 
was being left behind at school. 

What had I gained by running away from London? No- 
thing at all. Already I knew I had brought my hopeless 
passion with me. 

And now I was alone. 

FIFTY-SEVENTH CHAPTER 

NEXT day Lady Margaret came to my room to say good-bye, 
telling me she had only stayed at Castle Raa to keep house 



I FALL IN LOVE 237 

and make ready for me, and must now return to her own 
home, which was in London. 

I was sorry, for my heart had warmed to her, and when I 
stood at the door and saw her drive off with my husband to 
catch the afternoon steamer, I felt I had lost both sympathy 
and protection. 

Alma's feelings were less troubled, and as we turned back 
into the house I could see that she was saying to herself: 

"Thank goodness, she's gone away." 

A day or two later Doctor Conrad came, according to my 
father's instructions, and I was glad to see his close-cropped 
iron-grey head coming up the stairs towards my room. 

Naturally our first conversation was about Martin, who 
had written to tell his parents of our meeting in London and 
to announce his intended visit. It was all very exciting, and 
now his mother was working morning and night at the old 
cottage, to prepare for the arrival of her son. Such scrubbing 
and scouring ! Such taking up of carpets and laying them down 
again, as if the darling old thing were expecting a prince! 

"It ought to be Sunny Lodge indeed before she's done 
with it," said the Doctor. 

"I'm sure it will," I said. "It always was, and it al- 
ways will be." 

"And how are we ourselves," said the doctor. "A little 
below par, eh? Any sickness? No? Nausea? No? Head- 
ache and a feeling of lassitude, then? No?" 

After other questions and tests, the old doctor was looking 
puzzled, when, not finding it in my heart to keep him in the 
dark any longer, I told him there was nothing amiss with 
my health, but I was unhappy and had been so since the 
time of my marriage. 

"I see," he said. "It's your mind and not your body that 
is sick?" 

"Yes." 

"Ill speak to Father Dan," he said. "Good-bye! God 
bless you!" 

Less than half an hour after he had gone, Alma came to 
me in her softest mode, saying the doctor had said I was 
suffering from extreme nervous exhaustion and ought to be 
kept from worries and anxieties of every kind. 

"So if there's anything I can do while I'm here, dearest, 
. . . such as looking after the house and the servants . . . 



:.. : -? THE WOMAN THOU GAYEST ME 

No, no, don't deny me; it win be a pleasure, I assure you. 
--- So well say that's settled, shall we? . . . Ton dear, 
sweet darling creature?" 

I was too much out of heart to care what happened, but 
inside two days I realised that Abna had taken possession 
of tiie boose, and was ordering and controlling: everything. 

Apparently this pleased such of the servants as had any- 
thing to gain by it the housekeeper in particular for 
Abna was no skinflint and she was *tg my husband's 
money flow like water, but it was less agreeable to my maid, 



_ 

"This is a niee place to be sure, where the mistress takes 
no interest in anything, and the guest walks over every- 
body. She'll walk over the mistress herself before long 
mark my word but she will."' 

It would be about a week after our arrival at Castle Baa 
that Price came to my room to say that a priest was asking 
forme, and he was such a strange-looking tiling that she was 
puzzled to know if his face was that of a child, a woman or 
a dear old man. 

I knew in a moment it must be Father Dan, so I went 
flying downstairs and found him in the haD, wearing the same 
sack coat (or so it seeaaad) as when I was a child and made 
cupboards of its vertical pockets, carrying the same funny 
little bag which he had taken to Borne and used for his sur- 
plice at funerals, and mopping his forehead and flicking his 
boots: with a red print handkerchief, for the day was hot and 
the itMtuK were uusry. 

He was as glad to see me as I to see him, and when I asked 
if he would hare tea. he said Yes, for he had walked all the 
way from the Presbytery, after fasting the day before; and 
whan I asked if he would not stay overnight he said Yes to 
that, too, "if it would not be troublesome and inconvenient" 

So I took his bag and gave it to a maid, telling her to take 
it to the guest's room on my landing, and to bring tea to my 
boudoir immediately. 

But hardry had I taken him upstairs and we had got 
seated in my private room, when the maid knocked at the 
door to say that the housekeeper wished to speak with me, 
and on going out, and closing tike door behind me, I found 
her on the 1 i5 "g t a prim little flinty person with quick 
ere*, thin lips and an upward lift of her head. 



I FALL W LOVE 239 

"Sony, my lady, but it won't be convenient for his rever- 
ence to stay in the house to-night*" she said. 

"Why so!" I said. 

"Because Madame has ordered all the looms to be got 
ready for the house-party* and this one," (pointing to the 
guest's room opposite) "is prepared for Mr. and Mrs. 
Eastcliff, and we don't know how soon they may arrive." 

I felt myself flashing up to the eyes at the woman's im- 
pudence, and it added to my anger that Alma herself was 
standing at the head of the stairs, looking on and listening. 
So with a little spurt of injured pride I turned severely on 
the one while really speaking to the other, and said: 

"Be good enough to make this room ready for his rever- 
ence without one moment's delay, and please remember for 
the future, that I am mistress in this house, and your duty 
is to obey me and nobody else whatever." 

As I said this and turned back to my boudoir, I saw that 
Alma's deep eyes had a sullen look, and I felt that she 
meant to square accounts with me some day; but what she 
did was done at once, for going downstairs (as I afterwards 
heard from Price) she met my husband in the hall, where, 
woman-like, she opened her battery upon him at his weakest 
spot, saying: 

"Oh, I didn't know your wife was priest-ridden." 

"Priest-ridden f" 

"Precisely," and then followed an explanation of what 
had happened, with astonishing embellishments which made 
my husband pale with fury. 

Meantime I was alone with Father Dan in my room, and 
while I poured out his tea and served him with bread and 
butter, he talked first about Martin (as everybody seemed to 
do when speaking to me), saying: 

"He was always my golden-headed boy, and it's a mighty 
proud man I am entirely to hear the good news of him." 

More of the same kind there was, all music to my ears, 
and then Father Ban came to closer quarters, saying Doctor 
Conrad had dropped a hint that I was not very happy. 

"Tell your old priest everything, my child, and if there 
is anything he can do. . . . ' 

Without waiting for more words I sank to my knees at his 
feet, and poured out all my trouWaa telling him my mar- 
riage had been a failure; that the sanctifying grace which 
he had foretold as the result of the sacrament of holy wedlock 



240 THE WOMAN THOU GAYEST ME 

had not come to pass; that not only did I not love my hus- 
band, but my husband loved another woman, who was living 
here with us in this very house. 

Father Dan was dreadfully distressed. More than once 
while I was speaking he crossed himself and said, "Lord and 
His Holy Mother love us;" and when I came to an end he 
began to reproach himself for everything, saying that he 
ought to have known that our lad (meaning Martin) did not 
write those terrible letters without being certain they were 
true, and that from the first day my husband came to our 
parish the sun had been darkened by his shadow. 

"But take care," he said. "I've told nobody about the 
compact we made with your husband nobody but our 
Blessed Lady herself and you mustn't think of that as a 
way out of your marriage. No, nor of any other way, no 
matter what, which the world, and the children of the world, 
may talk about." 

"But I can't bear it, I can't bear it," I cried. 

"Hush! Hush! Don't say that, my daughter. Think 
of it as one of the misfortunes of life which we all have to 
suffer. How many poor women have to bear the sickness and 
poverty, not to speak of the drunkenness and death, of their 
husbands! Do they think they have a right to run away 
from all that to break the sacred vows of their marriage on 
account of it? No, my child, no, and neither must you. 
Some day it will all come right. You'll see it will. And 
meantime by the memory of your mother that blessed saint 
whom the Lord has made one of his own. ..." 

"Then what can I do?" 

"Pray, my child, pray for strength to bear your trials and 
to resist all temptation. Say a rosary for the Blessed Virgin 
every morning before breaking your fast. I'll say a rosary, 
too. You'll see yet this is only God's love for you, and 
you'll welcome His holy will." 

While my dear father and friend was counselling me so I 
heard my husband speaking in his loud, grating tones on 
the landing outside, and before I could rise from my knees he 
had burst open the door and entered the room. 

His face was deadly white and he was like a man out of 
his right mind. 

"Mary," he said, looking down at me where I knelt with 
my hands crossed on my bosom, "when did I give you per- 
mission to introduce a priest into my house? Isn't it 



I FALL IN LOVE 241 

enough for a man to have a wife who is a Catholic without 
having the church and its ministers shunted into his home 
without his permission?" 

I was so taken aback by this furious assault that at first I 
could not speak, but Father Dan interposed to defend me, 
saying with beautiful patience, that his visit had been quite 
unexpected on my part, and that I had asked him to stay 
overnight only because he was an old man, and had had a 
long walk from his parish. 

"I'm much obliged to your reverence," said my husband, 
who was quivering with fury, "but my wife is perfectly 
capable of answering for herself without your assistance, and 
as for your parish you would have done better to stay there 
instead of coming to meddle in this one." 

"Aren't you measuring me by your own yard, sir?" said 
Father Dan, and at that straight thrust my husband broke 
into ungovernable rage. 

"Everybody knows what a Popish priest is," he said. "A 
meddlesome busybody who pokes his nose into other men's 
secrets. But priest or no priest, I'll have no man coming to 
my house to make mischief between husband and wife." 

"Are you sure," said Father Dan, "that some woman isn't 
in your house already, making mischief between wife and 
husband?" 

That thrust too went home. My husband looked at me 
with flashing eyes and then said: 

"As I thought! You've been sent for to help my wife to 
make a great to-do of her imaginary grievances. You're to 
stay in the house too, and before long we'll have you setting 
up as master here and giving orders to my servants ! But not 
if I know it! ... Your reverence, if you have any respect 
for your penitent, you'll please be good enough to leave my 
wife to my protection." 

I saw that Father Dan had to gulp down his gathering 
anger, but he only said: 

' ' Say no more, my lord. No true priest ever comes between 
a man and the wife whom God has given him. It's his 
business to unite people, not to put them apart. As for this 
dear child, I have loved her since she was an infant in arms, 
and never so much as at the present speaking, so I don't need 
to learn my duty from one who appears to care no more for 
her than for the rind of a lemon. I'll go, sir," said the old 
man, drawing himself up like a wounded lion, "but it's not to 

Q 



242 THE WOMAN THOU G A VEST ME 

your protection I leave her it's to that of God's blessed and 
holy love and will." 

My husband had gone before the last words were spoken, 
but I think they must have followed him as he went lunging 
down the stairs. 

During this humiliating scene a hot flush of shame had come 
to my cheeks and I wanted to tell Father Dan not to let it 
grieve him, but I could do nothing but stoop and kiss his 
hand. 

Meantime two or three of the servants had gathered on the 
landing at the sound of my husband's voice, and among them 
was the flinty housekeeper holding the Father's little bag, 
and she gave it back to him as he passed her. 

Then, all being over, the woman came into my room, with 
an expression of victorious mischief in her eyes and said: 

"Your ladyship had better have listened to them as knows, 
you see." 

I was too benumbed by that cruel stroke to reply, but Price 
said enough for both of us. 

' ' If them as knows, ' ' she said, ' ' don 't get out of this room 
inside two seconds they '11 get their ugly faces slapped. ' ' 

I thought I had reached the end of my power of endurance, 
nd that night, before going to bed, while my maid was taking 
down my hair, and I was thinking of Martin and asking my- 
self if I should put up with my husband's brutalities any 
longer, I heard her say : 

" If I were a lady married to the wrong man, I 'd have the 
right one if I had to go through the divorce court for him." 

Now that was so exactly the thought that was running riot 
in my own tormented mind, that I flew at her like a wild cat, 
asking her how she dared to say anything so abominably 
wicked, and telling her to take her notice there and then. 

But hardly had she left the room, when -my heart was in my 
mouth again, and I was trembling with fear lest she should 
take me at my word and then the last of my friends would 
be gone. 

FIFTY-EIGHTH CHAPTER 

WITHIN the next few days the house-party arrived. There 
would be twenty of them at least, not counting valets and 
ladies' maids, so that large as Castle Raa was the house was 
full. 



I FALL IN LOVE 243 

They were about equally divided as to sex and belonged 
chiefly to my husband's class, but they included Mr. Eastcliff's 
beautiful wife, Camilla, and Alma's mother, who, much to 
Alma 's chagrin, had insisted upon being invited. 

My husband required me to receive them, and I did so, 
though I was only their nominal hostess, and they knew it 
and treated me accordingly. 

I should be ashamed to speak of the petty slights they put 
upon me, how they consulted Alma in my presence and other- 
wise wounded my pride as a woman by showing me thav I 
had lost my own place in my husband's house. 

I know there are people of the same class who are kind and 
considerate, guileless and pure, the true nobility of their 
country women who are devoted to their homes and children, 
and men who spend their wealth and strength for the public 
good but my husband's friends were not of that kind. 

They were vain and proud, selfish, self-indulgent, thor- 
oughly insincere, utterly ill-mannered, shockingly ill-informed, 
astonishingly ill-educated (capable of speaking several lan- 
guages but incapable of saying a sensible word in any of 
them), living and flourishing in the world without religion, 
without morality', and (if it is not a cant phrase to use) 
without God. 

What their conduct was when out shooting, picnicking, 
driving, riding, motoring, and yachting (for Mr. Easteliff had 
arrived in his yacht, which was lying at anchor in the port 
below the glen), I do not know, for "doctor's orders" were 
Alma's excuse for not asking me to accompany them. 

But at night they played bridge (their most innocent amuse- 
ment), gambled and drank, banged the piano, danced "Grizzly 
Bears, ' ' sang duets from the latest musical comedies, and then 
ransacked the empty houses of their idle heads for other 
means of killing the one enemy of their existence Time. 

Sometimes they would give entertainments in honour of 
their clogs, when all the animals of all the guests (there seemed 
to be a whole kennel of them) would be dressed up in coats of 
silk and satin with pockets and pocket-handkerchiefs, and 
then led downstairs to the drawing-room, where Alma's 
wheezy spaniel and my husband's peevish terrier were sup- 
posed to receive them. 

Sometimes they would give "freak dinners," when the 
guests themselves would be dressed up. the men in women's 
clothes, the women in men's, the male imitating the piping 



244 THE WOMAN THOU GAVEST ME 

treble of the female voices, and the female the over-vowelled 
slang of the male, until, tiring of this foolishness, they would 
end up by flinging the food at the pictures on the walls, the 
usual pellet being softened bread and the favourite target the 
noses in the family portraits, which, hit and covered with a 
sprawling mess, looked so ridiculous as to provoke screams of 
laughter. 

The talk at table was generally of horses and dogs, but 
sometimes it was of love, courtship and marriage, including 
conjugal fidelity, which was a favourite subject of ridicule, 
with both the women and the men. 

Thus my husband would begin by saying (he often said it 
in my hearing) that once upon a time men took their wives 
as they took their horses, on trial for a year and a day, and 
"really with some women there was something to say for the 
old custom." 

Then Mr. Vivian would remark that it was "a jolly good 
idea, by Jove," and if he "ever married, by the Lord that's 
just what he would do." 

Then Mr. Eastcliff would say that it was a ridiculous super- 
stition that a woman should have her husband all to herself, 
"as if he were a kind of toothbrush which she could not 
share with anybody else," and somebody would add that she 
might as reasonably want her dentist or her hairdresser to be 
kept for her own use only. 

After that the ladies, not to be left behind, would join in 
the off-hand rattle, and one of them would give it as her 
opinion that a wife might have an incorrigibly unfaithful 
husband, and yet be well off. 

"Ugh!" said Alma one night, shrugging her shoulders. 
"Think of a poor woman being tied for life to an entirely 
faithful husband!" 

"I adore the kind of man who goes to the deuce for a 
woman Parnell, and Gambetta and Boulanger and that 
sort," said a "smart" girl of three or four-and-twenty, where- 
upon Camilla Eastcliff (she was a Russian) cried: 

"That's vhy the co-respondents in your divorce courts are 
so sharming. They're like the villayns in the plays always 
so dee-lightfully vicked." 

Oh, the sickening horror of it all! Whether it was really 
moral corruption or only affectation and pose, it seemed 
equally shocking, and though I bore as much of it as I could 
with a cheerful face, I escaped as often as possible to the 
clean atmosphere of my own room. 



I FALL IN LOVE 245 

But even there I was not always allowed to be alone, for 
Alma's mother frequently followed me. She was a plump 
little person in a profuse ornamentation of diamond rings and 
brooches, with little or no education, and a reputation for 
saying risky things in blundering French whereof the prin- 
cipal humour lay in the uncertainty as to whether she knew 
their meaning or not. 

Nevertheless she was the only good-hearted woman in the 
house, and I really believe she thought she was doing a kind 
act in keeping me company. But oh, how I suffered from her 
long accounts of her former "visits" to my house, whereby 
I learned, without wishing to, what her origin had been (the 
daughter of a London postman) ; what position she had held 
in Castle Raa in her winsome and reckless youth (one that 
need not be defined) ; how she had met her husband in New 
York and he had married her to save the reputation of his 
child; and finally how the American ladies of society had 
refused to receive her, and she had vowed to be revenged on 
them by marrying Alma to the highest title in Europe that 
could be bought with money. 

"I was just like your father, my dear. I never did no 
manner of harm to those people. They used to think I 
thought myself better blood nor they were, but I never 
thought no such thing, I assure you. Only when they turned 
nasty after my marriage I made up my mind just as your 
father did as Alma should marry a bigger husband nor 
any of them, even if he wasn't worth a dime and 'adn't a 'air 
on 'is 'ead." 

But even these revelations about herself were less humiliat- 
ing than her sympathy with me, which implied that I was not 
fitted to be mistress of a noble house how could it be ex- 
pected of me? whereas Alma was just as if she had been 
born to it, and therefore it was lucky for me that I had her 
there to show me how to do things. 

"Alma's gotten such ton! Such distangy manners!" she 
would say. 

The effect of all this was to make me feel, as I had never felt 
before, the intolerable nature of the yoke I was living under. 
When I looked into the future and saw nothing before me but 
years of this ignoble bondage, I told myself that nothing no 
sacrament or contract, no law of church or state could make 
me endure it. 

From day to day my maid came to me with insidious hints 
about Alma and my husband. I found myself listening to 



246 THE WOMAN THOU GAYEST ME 

them. I also found myself refreshing my memory of the 
hideous scene in Paris, and wondering why I had condoned the 
offence by staying an hour longer under my husband's pro- 
tection. 

And then there was always another force at work within 
me my own secret passion. Though sometimes I felt myself 
to be a wretched sinner and thought the burden I had to bear 
was heaven's punishment for my guilty love, at other times 
my whole soul rose in revolt, and I cried out not merely for 
separation from my husband but for absolute sundering. 

Twice during the painful period of the house-party I heard 
from Martin. His first letter was full of accounts of the far- 
reaching work of his expedition the engaging of engineers, 
electricians, geologists and masons, and the shipping of great 
stores of wireless apparatus for his spirits seemed to be high, 
and life was full of good things for him. 

His second letter told me that everything was finished, and 
he was to visit the island the next week, going first to "the 
old folks" and coming to me for a few days immediately 
before setting sail. 

That brought matters to a head, and compelled me to take 
action. 

It may have been weak of me, but not wanting a repetition 
of the scene with Father Dan, (knowing well that Martin 
would not bear it with the same patience) I sent the second 
letter to Alma, asking if the arrangement would be agree- 
able. She returned it with the endorsement (scribbled in 
pencil across the face), "Certainly; anything to please you, 
dear." 

I submitted even to that. Perhaps I was a poor-spirited 
thing, wanting in proper pride, but I had a feeling that it was 
not worth while to waste myself in little squibs of temper, 
because an eruption was coming (I w r as sure of that) in which 
Martin would be concerned on my side, and then everybody 
and everything would be swept out of the path of my life 
for ever. 

Martin came. In due course I read in the insular news- 
papers of his arrival on the island how the people had turned 
out in crowds to cheer him at the pier, and how, on reaching 
our own village the neighbours (I knew the names of all of 
them) had met him at the railway station and taken him to 
his mother's house, and then lighted fires on the mountains 
for his welcome home. 



I FALL IN LOVE 247 

It cut me to the heart's core to think of Martin amid thrill- 
ing scenes like those while I was here among degrading scenes 
like these. My love for Martin was now like a wound and I 
resolved that, come what might, before he reached Castle 
Raa I should liberate myself from the thraldom of my false 
position. 

Father Dan 's counsels had faded away by this time. Though 
I had prayed for strength to bear my burden there had been 
no result, and one morning, standing before the figure of the 
Virgin in my bedroom, I felt an impulse to blow out her lamp 
and never to light it again. 

The end of it all was that I determined to see the Bishop 
and my father 's advocate, Mr. Curphy, and perhaps my father 
himself, that I might know one way or the other where I was, 
and what was to become of me. But how to do this I could 
not see, having a houseful of people who were nominally my 
guests. 

Fortune ill-fortune favoured me. News came that my 
father had suddenly fallen ill of some ailment that puzzled the 
doctors, and making this my reason and excuse I spoke to 
my husband, asking if I might go home for two or three 
days. 

"Why not?" he said, in the tone of one who meant, "Who's 
keeping you?" 

Then in my weakness I spoke to Alma, who answered: 

"Certainly, my sweet girl. We shall miss you dreadfully, 
but it's your duty. And then you'll see that dear Mr. . . . 
What d'ye callum?" 

Finally, feeling myself a poor, pitiful hypocrite, I apolo- 
gised for my going away to the guests also, and they looked 
as if they might say : ' ' We 11 survive it, perhaps. ' ' 

The night before my departure my maid said: 

"Perhaps your ladyship has forgotten that my time's up, 
but I '11 stay until you return if you want me to. ' ' 

I asked her if she would like to stay with me altogether and 
she said: 

' ' Indeed I should, my lady. Any woman would like to stay 
with a good mistress, if she is a little quick sometimes. And 
if you don 't want me to go to your father 's I may be of some 
use to you here before you come back again." 

I saw that her mind was still running on divorce, but I did 
not reprove her now, for mine was turning in the same 
direction. 



248 THE WOMAN THOU GAVEST ME 

Next morning most of the guests came to the hall door to 
see me off, and they gave me a shower of indulgent smiles as 
the motor-car moved away. 

FIFTY-NINTH CHAPTER 

BEFORE going to my father's house I went to the Bishop's. 
Bishop's Court is at the other side of the island, and it was 
noon before I drove under its tall elm trees, in which a vast 
concourse of crows seemed to be holding a sort of general 
congress. 

The Bishop was then at his luncheon, and after luncheon 
(so his liveried servant told me) he usually took a siesta. I 
have always thought it was unfortunate for my interview 
that it came between his food and his sleep. 

The little reception-room into which I was shown was 
luxuriously, not to say gorgeously, appointed, with easy chairs 
and sofas, a large portrait of the Pope, signed by the Holy 
Father himself, and a number of pictures of great people of 
all kinds dukes, marquises, lords, counts as well as photo- 
graphs of fashionable ladies in low dress inscribed in several 
languages to "My dear Father in God the Lord Bishop of 
Elian." 

The Bishop came to me after a few minutes, smiling and 
apparently at peace with all the world. Except that he wore 
a biretta he was dressed as in Rome in his long black 
soutane with its innumerable buttons, his silver-buckled shoes, 
his heavy gold chain and jewelled cross. 

He welcomed me in his smooth and suave manner, asking 
if he could offer me a little refreshment; but, too full of my 
mission to think of eating and drinking, I plunged imme- 
diately into the object of my visit. 

"Monsignor," I said, "I am in great trouble. It is about 
my marriage." 

The smile was smitten away from the Bishop 's face by this 
announcement. 

"I am sorry," he said. "Nothing serious, I trust?" 

I told him it was very serious, and straightway I began 
on the spiritual part of my grievance that my husband did 
not love me, that he loved another woman, that the sacred 
sacrament of my marriage. . . . 

"Wait," said the Bishop, and he rose to close the window, 
for the clamour of the crows was deafening a trial must have 
been going on in the trees. Returning to his seat he said: 



I FALL IN LOVE 249 

"Dear lady, you must understand that there is one offence, 
and only one. which in all Christian countries and civilised 
communities is considered sufficient to constitute a real and 
tangible grievance. Have you any evidence of that?" 

I knew what he meant and I felt myself colouring to the 
roots of my hair. But gulping down my shame I recounted 
the story of the scene in Paris and gave a report of my maid 's 
charges and surmises. 

"Humph!" said the Bishop, and I saw in a moment that 
he was going to belittle my proofs. 

"Little or no evidence of your own, apparently. Chiefly 
that of your maid. And ladies' maids are notorious mischief- 
makers." 

"But it's true," I said. "My husband will not deny it. 
He cannot." 

"So far as I am able to observe what passes in the world," 
said the Bishop, "men in such circumstances always can and 
do deny it. ' ' 

I felt my hands growing moist under my gloves. I thought 
the Bishop was trying to be blind to what he did not wish 
to see. 

"But I'm right, I'm sure I'm right," I said. 

"Well, assuming you are right, what is it, dear lady, that 
you wish me to do ? " 

For some minutes I felt like a fool, but I stammered out at 
length that I had come for his direction and to learn what 
relief the Church could give me. 

"H'm!" said the Bishop, and then crossing one leg over 
the other, and fumbling the silver buckle of his shoe, he said : 

"The Church, dear lady, does indeed provide alleviation in 
cases of dire necessity. It provides the relief of separation 
always deploring the necessity and hoping for ultimate re- 
conciliation. But to sanction the separation of a wife from 
her husband because pardon me, I do not say this is your 
case she finds that he does not please her, or because 
again I do not say this is your case she fancies that some- 
body else pleases her better. ..." 

"Monsignor," I said, feeling hot and dizzy, "we need not 
discuss separation. I am thinking of something much more 
serious. ' ' 

Never shall I forget the expression of the Bishop's face. 
He looked aghast. 

"My good lady, surely you are not thinking of divorce?" 



250 THE WOMAN THOU GAVEST ME 

I think my head must have dropped as in silent assent, 
for in a peremptory and condemnatory manner the Bishop 
took me to task, asking if I did not know that the Catholic 
Church did not recognise divorce under any circumstances, 
and if I had forgotten what the Holy Father himself (point- 
ing up to the portrait) had said to me that when I entered 
into the solemn contract of holy matrimony I was to do so in 
the full consciousness that it could not be broken but by death. 

"The love in which husband and wife contract to hold each 
other in holy wedlock is typified by the love of Christ for His 
Church, and as the one can never be broken, neither can the 
other." 

"But my husband does not love me," I said. "Neither 
do I love him, and therefore the contract between us is broken 
already." 

The Bishop was very severe with me for this, telling me 
that as a good child of the Church, I must never, never say 
that again, for though marriage was a contract it differed 
from all other contracts whatsoever. 

"When you married your husband, dear lady, you were 
bound to him not by your own act alone, but by a mysterious 
power from which neither of you can ever free yourself. The 
power that united you was God, and whom God has joined 
together no man may put asunder. ' ' 

I felt my head drooping. The Bishop was saying what I 
had always been taught, though in the torment of my trouble 
and the fierce fire of my temptation I had forgotten it. 

"The civil law might divorce you," continued the Bishop. 
"I don't know I can say nothing about that. But it would 
have no right to do so because the law can have no right to 
undo what God Himself has done." 

Oh, it was cruel! I felt as if the future of my life were 
darkening before me as if the iron bars of a prison were 
closing upon me, and fetters were being fixed on every limb. 

"But even if the civil law could and would divorce you," 
said the Bishop, "think of the injury you would be inflicting 
on the Church. Yours was what is called a mixed marriage, 
and the Church does not favour such marriages, but it con- 
sented in this case, and why? Because it hoped to bring 
back an erring family in a second generation to the fold of 
the faith. Yet what would you be doing? Without waiting 
for a second generation you would be defeating its purpose." 

A cold chill seemed to creep to my heart at those words. 



I FALL IN LOVE 251 

Was it the lost opportunity the Bishop was thinking of, in- 
stead of the suffering woman with her bruised and bleeding 
soul? 

I rose to go. The Bishop rose with me, and began to 
counsel forgiveness. 

"Even if you have suffered injury, dear lady," he said 
"I don't say you haven't isn't it possible to forgive? Re- 
member, forgiveness is a divine virtue, enjoined on us all, 
and especially on a woman towards the man she has married. 
Only think! How many women have to practise it every 
day, all the world over!" 

"Ah, well!" I said, and walked to the door. 

The Bishop walked with me, urging me, as a good daughter 
of the Church, to live at peace with my husband, whatever his 
faults, and when my children came (as please God they would) 
to "instil into them the true faith with all a mother's art, a 
mother's tenderness," so that the object of my marriage might 
be fulfilled, and a good Catholic become the heir to Castle Raa. 

"So the Church can do nothing for me?" I said. 

"Nothing but pray, dear lady," said the Bishop. 

"When I left him my heart was in fierce rebellion ; and, since 
the Church could do nothing, I determined to see if the law 
could do anything, so I ordered my chauffeur to drive to the 
house of my father's advocate at Holmtown. 

The trial in the trees was over by this time, and a dead crow 
tumbled from one of the tall elms as we passed out of the 
grounds. 

Holmtown is a little city on the face of our bleak west 
coast, dominated by a broad stretch of sea, and having the 
sound of the waves always rumbling over it. Mr. Curphy's 
house faced the shore and his office was an upper room plainly 
furnished with a writing desk, a deal table, laden with law 
books and foolscap papers, a stiff arm-chair, covered with 
American leather, three or four coloured engravings of judges 
in red and ermine, a photograph of the lawyer himself in wig 
and gown, an illuminated certificate of his membership of a 
legal society, and a number of lacquered tin boxes, each in- 
scribed with the name of a client the largest box bearing the 
name of "Daniel O'XeilL" 

My father's advocate received me with his usual bland 
smile, gave me his clammy fat hand, put me to sit in the arm- 
chair, hoped my unexpected visit did not presage worse news 
from the Big House, and finally asked me what he could do. 

I told my story over again, omitting my sentimental griev- 



252 THE WOMAN THOU GAYEST ME 

ances and coming quickly, and with less delicacy, to the 
grosser facts of my husband 's infidelity. 

The lawyer listened with his head aside, his eyes looking out 
on the sea and his white fingers combing his long brown 
beard, and before I had finished I could see that he too, like 
the Bishop, had determined to see nothing. 

"You may be right," he began. . . . 

"I am right!" I answered. 

"But even if you are, I am bound to tell you that adultery 
is not enough of itself as a ground for divorce." 

"Not enough?" 

"If you were a man it would be, but being a woman you 
must establish cruelty as well." 

"Cruelty? Isn't it all cruelty?" I asked. 

"In the human sense, yes; in the legal sense, no," answered 
the lawyer. 

And then he proceeded to explain to me that in this country, 
unlike some others, before a woman could obtain a divorce 
from her husband she had to prove that he had not only been 
unfaithful to her, but that he had used violence to her, struck 
her in the face perhaps, threatened her or endangered her 
life or health. 

"Your husband hasn't done that, has he? No? I thought 
not. After all he's a gentleman. Therefore there is only one 
other ground on which you could establish a right to divorce, 
namely desertion, and your husband is not likely to run away. 
In fact, he couldn't. It isn't to his interest. We've seen to 
all that lie re," and smiling again, the lawyer patted the top 
of the lacquered box that bore my father's name. 

I was dumbfounded. Even more degrading than the fetters 
whereby the Church bound me to my marriage were the terms 
on which the law would release me. 

"But assuming that you could obtain a divorce," said the 
lawyer, "what good would it do you? You would have to 
relinquish your title." 

"I care nothing about my title," I replied. 

"And your position." 

"I care nothing about that either.'* 

' ' Come, come, ' ' said the lawyer, patting my arm as if I had 
been an angry child on the verge of tears. "Don't let a fit 
of pique or spleen break up a marriage that is so suitable 
from the points of property and position. And then think 
of your good father. Why did he spend all that money in 



I FALL IN LOVE 253 

setting a ruined house on its legs again ? That he might carry 
on his name in a noble family, and through your children, and 
your children's children. ..." 

"Then the law can do nothing for me?" I said, feeling 
sick and sore. 

"Sorry, very sorry, but under present conditions, as far as 
I can yet see, nothing," said the lawyer. 

"Good-day, sir," I said, and before he could have known 
what I was doing I had leapt up, left the room, and was 
hurrying downstairs. 

My heart was in still fiercer rebellion now. I would go 
home. I would appeal to my father. Hard as he had always 
been with me he was at least a man, not a cold abstraction, 
like the Church and the law, without bowels of compassion or 
sense of human suffering. 

SIXTIETH CHAPTER 

ALTHOUGH I had sent word that I was coming home, there was 
no one to welcome me when I arrived. 

Aunt Bridget was out shopping, and Betsy Beauty (in the 
sulks with me, as I afterwards heard, for not asking her to 
the house-party) had run upstairs on hearing our horn, so I 
went direct to my father's room. 

Xessy MacLeod answered my knock, but instead of opening 
the door to let me in, she slid out like a cat and closed it 
behind her. Never had her ungainly figure, her irregular 
features, and her red head seemed to me so repugnant. I saw 
at once that she was giving herself the airs of housekeeper, and 
I noticed that she was wearing the bunch of keys which used 
to dangle from Aunt Bridget 's waist when I was a child. 

"Your father is ill," she said. 

I told her I knew that, and it was one of the reasons I was 
there. 

"Seriously ill," she said, standing with her back to the door. 
' ' The doctor says he is to be kept perfectly quiet. ' ' 

Indignant at the effrontery of the woman who was trying 
to keep me out of my father 's room, I said : 

"Let me pass, please." 

"S'sh! He has a temperature, and I don't choose that 
anybody shall disturb him to-day." 

"Let me pass," I repeated, and I must have pitched my 
voice so high that my father heard it. 



254 THE WOMAN THOU GAVEST ME 

"Is that Mary?" came from the other side of the door, 
whereupon Nessy beat a retreat, and at the next moment I 
was in my father's room. 

His massive and powerful head was propped up with 
pillows in the camp-bed which was all he ever slept on, and 
he was looking so ill and changed in so short a time that I 
was shocked, as well as ashamed at the selfishness of having 
thought only of myself all the morning. 

But he would listen to no sympathy, protesting there was 
little or nothing the matter with him, that "Conrad was 
croaking about cancer, ' ' but the doctor was a fool. 

"What about yourself, though?" he said. "Great doinga 
at the Castle, they 're telling me. ' ' 

I thought this a favourable opportunity to speak about my 
own affairs, so I began on my story again, and though I found 
it harder to tell now that my listener was my father, I 
struggled on and on, as well as I could for the emotion that 
was choking me. 

I thought he would pity me. I expected him to be angry. 
Although he was showing me some of the contemptuous 
tenderness which he had always assumed towards my mother, 
yet I was his daughter, and I felt sure that he would want 
to leap out of bed that he might take my husband by the throat 
and shake him as a terrier shakes a rat. But what happened 
was something quite different. 

Hardly had I begun when he burst out laughing. 

' ' God bless my soul, ' ' he cried, ' ' you 're never going to lose 
your stomach over a thing like that?" 

I thought he had not understood me, so I tried to speak 
plainer. 

"I see," he said. " Sweethearting some other woman, is 
he? Well, what of it? He isn't the first husband who has 
done the like, and I guess he won't be the last." 

Still I thought I had not made myself clear, so I said my 
husband had been untrue to me, that his infidelities under 
my own roof had degraded me in my own eyes and everybody 
else's, that I could not bear to live such a life any longer 
and consequently . . . 

"Consequently," said my father, "you come to me to fight 
your battles for you. No, no, fight them yourself, gel. No 
father-in-law ought to interfere." 

It was a man's point of view I suppose, but I was ready to 
cry with vexation and disappointment, and though I con- 
quered the impulse to do that I could go no farther. 



I FALL IN LOVE 255 

''Who's the woman?" he asked. 

I told him it was one of our house-party. 

"Then cut her out. I guess you're clever enough to do it, 
whoever she is. You've got the looks too, and I don't grudge 
you the money. Cut her out that's the best advice I can 
give you. Make your husband see you're the better woman 
of the two. Cut her out, I 'm saying, and don 't come whining 
here like a cry-baby, who runs to her grandmother's apron- 
strings at the first scratch she gets outside. ' ' 

He had been reaching forward, but he now fell back on his 
pillows, saying: 

"I see how it is, though. "Women without children are 
always vapouring about their husbands, as if married life 
ought to be a garden of Eden. One woman, one man, and all 
the rest of the balderdash. I sot your Aunt Bridget on you 
before, gel, and I '11 have to do it again I 'm thinking. But go 
away now. If I'm to get better I must have rest. Nessy!" 
(calling) "I've a mort o' things to do and most everything is 
on my shoulders. Nessy! My medicine! Nessy! Nessy! 
Where in the world has that girl gone to ? " 

' ' I 'm here, Daniel, ' ' said Nessy McLeod coming back to the 
room ; and as I went out and passed down the corridor, with a 
crushed and broken spirit and the tears ready to gush from 
my eyes, I heard her coaxing him in her submissive and 
insincere tones, while he blamed and scolded her. 

Half an hour afterwards Aunt Bridget came to me in my 
mother's room. Never in my life before had I been pleased 
to see her. She, at least, would see my situation with a 
woman's eyes. But I was doomed to another disappointment. 

"Goodness me, girl," she cried, "what's this your father 
tells me? One of your own guests, is it? That one with 
the big eyes I'll go bail. Well, serve you right, I say, for 
bringing a woman like that into the house with your husband 
so smart and such a quality toss with her. If you were 
lonely coming home why didn't you ask your aunt or your 
first cousin? There would have been no trouble with your 
husband then not about me at all events. But what are you 
thinking of doing?" 

"Getting a divorce," I answered, firmly, for my heart was 
now aflame. 

If I had held a revolver in Aunt Bridget's face she could 
not have looked more shocked. 

"Mary O'Neill, are you mad?" she cried. "Divorce in- 



256 THE WOMAN THOU GAYEST ME 

deed ! No woman of our family has ever disgraced herself 
like that. What will your father say? What's to happen to 
Betsy Beauty? What are people going to think about me?" 

I answered that I had not made my marriage, and those 
who had made it must take the consequences. 

"What does that matter now? Hundreds of thousands of 
women have married the wrong man of their own free will, 
but if every woman who has made a rue-bargain were to try 
to get out of it your way where would the world be, I wonder ? 
Perhaps you think you could marry somebody else, but you 
couldn't. What decent man wants to marry a divorced 
woman even if she is the injured party?" 

' ' Then you think I ought to submit tamely submit to such 
infidelities?" I asked. 

"Sakes alive," said Aunt Bridget, "what else can you 
do? Men are polygamous animals, and we women have to 
make up our minds to it. Goodness knows I had to when 
the old colonel used to go hanging around those English 
barmaids at the 'Cock and Hen.' Be a little blind, girl- 
that 's what nine wives out of ten have to be every day and 
every night and all the world over." 

"Will that make my husband any better?" I asked. 

"I don't say it will," said Aunt Bridget. "It will make 
you better, though. What the eye doesn 't see the heart doesn 't 
grieve for. That's something, isn't it?" 

When I went to bed that night my whole soul was in revolt. 
The Church, the law, society, parental power, all the con- 
ventions and respectabilities seemed to be in a conspiracy 
to condone my husband's offence and to make me his scape- 
goat, doomed to a life of hypocrisy and therefore immorality 
and shame. I would die rather than endure it. Yes, I would 
die that very day rather than return to my husband's house 
and go through the same ordeal again. 

But next morning when I thought of Martin, as I always did 
on first awakening, I told myself that I would live and be a 
clean woman in my own eyes whatever the World might think 
of me. 

Martin was now my only refuge, so I would tell him every- 
thing. It vrould be hard to do that, but no matter, I would 
crush down my modesty and tell him everything. And then, 
whatever he told me to do I should do it. 

I knew quite well what my resolution meant, what it implied 



I FALL IN LOVE 257 

and involved, but still I thought, "Whatever he tells me to 
do I will do it." 

I remembered what the Countess in Rome had said about 
a life of "complete emancipation" as an escape from un- 
happy marriage, and even yet I thought "Whatever he tells 
me to do I mill do it." 

After coming to that conclusion I felt more at ease and 
got up to dress. 

It was a beautiful morning, and I looked down into the 
orchard, where the apples were reddening under the sun- 
shine and the gooseberries were ripening under their hang- 
ing boughs, when in the quiet summer air I heard a footstep 
approaching. 

An elderly woman in an old-fashioned quakerish bonnet 
was coming up the drive. She carried a little bunch of red 
and white roses, and her face, which was very sweet and 
simple, wore the pathetic expression of a child in trouble. 

It was Martin's mother. She was coming to see me, and 
at the first sight of her something told me that my brave reso- 
lution was about to be broken, and I was going to be shaken 
to the depths of my being. 

I heard the bell of the front door ringing. After a 
moment a maid came up and said: 

"Mrs. Doctor Conrad has called to see your ladyship.'* 

"Bring her here," I answered. 

My heart was in my mouth already. 

SIXTY-FIRST CHAPTER 

WHEN Martin's mother came into the room she looked 
nervous and almost frightened, as if she had charged herself 
with a mission which she was afraid to fulfil. But I put her 
to sit in my mother's easy chair and sat on the arm of it 
myself, and then she seemed calmer and more comfortable. 

In spite of the silver threads in the smooth hair under her 
poke bonnet her dear face was still the face of a child, and 
never before had it seemed to me so helpless and childlike. 

After a moment we began to talk of Martin. I said it must 
be a great happiness to her to have him back after his long 
and perilous voyage; and she answered that it was, but his 
visit was so short, only four days altogether, although the 
doctor and she had looked forward to it so long. 

"That's not Martin's fault, though," she said. "He's such 
a good son. I really, really think no mother ever had such a 

R 



258 THE WOMAN THOU GAYEST ME 

good son. But when children grow up they can't always be 
thinking of the old people, can they? That's why I say 
to the doctor, 'Doctor,' I say, 'perhaps we were the same 
ourselves when we were young and first loved each other.' ' 

Already I thought I saw vaguely what the dear soul had 
iome to tell me, but I only said I supposed Martin was still 
with them. 

She told me no, he had gone to King George's. That was 
his old school, and being prize-giving day the masters had 
asked him to the sports and to the dinner that was to be 
given that night before the breaking-up for the holidays. 

' ' The boys will give him a cheer, I know they will, ' ' she said. 

I said of course he would be back to-morrow, but again 
she said no ; he had gone for good, and they had said good-bye 
to him. When he left King George's he was to go on to 
Castle Raa, Didn't I know that? He had said he would 
telegraph to me. But being from home perhaps I had not 
yet received his message. Oh yes, he was going on to the Castle 
to-morrow night and would stay there until it was time to 
leave the island. 

"I'm so glad," I said, hardly knowing with what fervour 
I had said it, until I saw the same expression of fear come 
back to the sweet old face. . 

"Martin will be glad, too," she said, "and that's . . . 
that's why I've come to see you." 

"That?" 

"You won't be cross with me, will you? But Martin is 
so fond of you. ... He always has been fond of you, ever 
since he was a boy . . . but this time . . . ' 

"Yes?" 

"This time I thought ... I really, really thought he was 
too fond of you." 

I had to hold my breast to keep down the cry of joy that 
was rising to my throat, but the dear soul saw nothing. 

"Not that he said so not to say said so, but it's a mother 
to see things, isn't it? And he was talking and talking so 
much about Mary O'Neill that I was frightened really 
frightened." 

"Frightened?" 

"He's so tender-hearted, you see. And then you . . . 
you're such a wonderful woman grown. Tommy the Mate 
saj T s there hasn't been the like of you on this island since they 
laid your mother under the sod. It's truth enough, too 



I PALL IN LOVE 259 

gospel truth. And Martin Martin says there isn't your 
equal, no, not in London itself neither. So . . . so," she 
said, trembling and stammering, "I was thinking ... I 
was thinking he was only flesh and blood like the rest of us, 
poor boy, and if he got to be too fond of you . . . now that 
you're married and have a husband, you know. ..." 

The trembling and stammering stopped her for a moment. 

"They're saying you are not very happy in your marriage 
neither. Times and times I've heard people saying he isn't 
kind to you, and they married you against your will. ... So 
I was telling myself if that's so, and Martin and you came 
together now, and you encouraged him, and let him go on 
. . . and anything came of it ... any trouble or disgrace or 
the like of that ... it would be such a terrible cruel shock- 
ing thing for the boy . . . just when everybody's talking 
about him and speaking so well too." 

It was out at last. Her poor broken-hearted story was 
told. Being a married woman, unhappily married, too, I 
was a danger to her beloved son, and she had come to me 
in her sweet, unmindful, motherly selfishness to ask me to 
protect him against myself. 

"Whiles and whiles I've been thinking of it," she said. 
" 'What will I do?' I've been asking myself, and sometimes 
I've been thinking I would speak to Martin. I didn't dare 
do it, though. But when I heard last night that you had 
come home to see your father, I said: 'Doctor, I'll go over 
and speak to herself.' 'You'll never do that, Christian Ann,' 
said the doctor. 'Yes, I will,' I said. 'I'll speak to the 
young mistress herself. She may be a great lady now, but 
haven't I nursed her on my knee? She'll never do anything 
to harm my boy, if I ask her not to. No indeed she won't. 
Not Mary O'Neill. I'll never believe it of her. Never in 
this world.' " 

The sweet old face was beaming but it was wet with tears, 
too, and while trying to get out her pocket-handkerchief, 
she was fumbling with the flowers which she was still hold- 
ing and passing from hand to hand. 

"Let me take the roses," I said as well as I could, for I 
could scarcely say anything. 

"I brought them for you," she said, and then she laughed, 
a little confusedly, at her own forgetfulness. 

"To be sure they're nothing to the green-house ones you'll 
have at the Castle, but I thought you'd like them for all that 



260 THE WOMAN THOU GAYEST ME 

They're from the tree outside the window of your own little 
room. We call it your room still the one you slept in when 
you came in your little velvet frock and pinnie, singing 
carols to my door. 'Mary O'Neill's room,' Martin called it 
then, and it's been the same to us ever since." 

This touched me so deeply that, before I knew what I was 
doing, I was putting my arm about her waist and asking her 
to tell me what she wished me to do and I would do it. 

"Will you, though?" she said, and then one by one she 
propounded the artless little schemes she had concocted to 
cure Martin of what she conceived to be his love for me. 

Her first thought was that I might make excuse of my 
father's illness to remain where I was until the time came 
for Martin to leave the island; but she repented of this al- 
most immediately, remembering that Martin was set on seeing 
me, ('I must see her,' he had said) and if he did not see me 
he would be so downhearted. 

Then she thought I might praise up my husband to Martin, 
saying what a fine man he was to be sure, and how good he 
had been to me, and what a proud woman I was to be mar- 
ried to him; but she was ashamed of that almost as soon as 
she had said it, for it might not be true, and Martin might 
see I was pretending. 

Finally, she suggested that in order to create a coolness 
between Martin and myself I might try not to be so nice to 
him, speaking short to him sometimes, and even harsh and 
angry; but no, that would be too cruel, especially from me, 
after all these years, just when he was going so far away, too, 
and only the Lord and the blessed saints knew what was 
to become of him. 

It was Martin, Martin, always Martin. Still in her sweet 
motherly selfishness she could think of nobody else. Fondly 
as she loved me, it never occurred to her for a moment that 
if I did what she wished and sent Martin away from me, I 
too would suffer. But a harder heart than mine would have 
melted at the sight of her perplexity and distress, and 
when with a helpless look she said: 

"I don't know what you are to do I really, really don't," 
I comforted her (needing comfort so much myself), and told 
her I would find a way of my own to do what she desired. 

"Will you, though?" she said. 

" Indeed I will." 

"And you won't send him away sore-hearted, either?" 



I FALL IN LOVE 261 

"Indeed I won't." 

"I knew you would say that. May the Lord and His 
holy Mother bless you!" 

She was weeping tender, copious, blessed tears by this 
time, but there were smiles behind them. 

"Not that there's another woman in the world I would 
rather give him to if things were as they used to be. But 
they're different now, are they not?" she asked. 

"Yes, they're different now," I answered. 

"But are you sure you're not cross. with me for coming?" 

"Oh, no, no," I said, and it was all I could say for my 
voice was failing me. 

She gave a sigh of inexpressible relief and then rose to go. 

"I must be going now. The doctor is digging in the 
garden and he hasn't had his breakfast. But I put the pot 
on the slouree to boil and it will be ready for the porridge. ' ' 

She got as far as the door and then turned and said : 

' ' I wish I had a photo of you a right one, just as you are 
at this very minute. I 'd hang it in your own room, and times 
and times in the day I'd be running upstairs to look at it. 
But it's all as one. I've got a photo of you here," (touching 
her breast) "and sometimes I can see it as plain as plain." 

I could not speak after that, but I kissed her as she was 
going out, and she said: 

"That's nice, now! Good-bye, my chree! You'll not be 
going home until to-morrow, it's like, so perhaps 111 be 
putting another sight on you. Good-bye!" 

I went to the window to watch her as she walked down 
the drive. She was wiping her eyes, but her head was up 
and I thought her step was light, and I was sure her face 
was shining. 

God bless her! The dear sweet woman! Such women 
as she is, and my mother was so humble and loving, so 
guileless and pure, never saying an unkind word or thinking 
an unkind thought are the flowers of the world that make 
the earth smell sweet. 

When she was gone and I remembered the promise I had 
made to her I asked myself what was to become of me. If I 
could neither divorce my husband under any circumstances 
without breaking a sacrament of the Church, nor love Martin 
and be loved by him without breaking the heart of his 
mother, where was I ? 



262 THE WOMAN THOU GAVEST ME 

I intended to go home the following morning; I was to 
meet Martin the following night. What was I to say ? What 
was I to do? 

All day long these questions haunted me and I could find 
no answers. But towards evening I took my troubles where 
I had often taken them to Father Dan. 

SIXTY-SECOND CHAPTER 

THE door of the Presbytery was opened by Father Dan 's Irish 
housekeeper, a good old soul whose attitude to her master 
was that of a "moithered" mother to a wilful child. 

All the way up the narrow staircase to his room, she 
grumbled about his reverence. Unless he was sickening for 
the scarlet fever she didn't know in her seven sinses what 
was a-matter with him these days. He was as white as a 
ghost, and as thin as a shadder, and no wonder neither, for 
he didn't eat enough to keep body and soul together. 

Yesterday itself she had cooked him a chicken as good as I 
could get at the Big House; "done to a turn, too, with a 
nice bit of Irish bacon on top, and a bowl of praties biled in 
their jackets and a basin of beautiful new buttermilk;" but 
no, never a taste nor a sup did he take of it. 

"It's just timpting Providence his reverence is, and it'll 
be glory to God if you'll tell him so." 

"What's that you're saying about his reverence, Mrs. 
Cassidy?" cried Father Dan from the upper landing. 

"I'm saying you're destroying yourself with your fasting 
and praying and your midnight calls at mountain cabins, 
and never a ha'porth of anything in your stomach to do it on. " 

"Whisht then, Mrs. Cassidy, it's tay-time, isn't it? So 
just step back to your kitchen and put on your kittle, and 
bring up two of your best china cups and saucers, and a nice 
piece of buttered toast, not forgetting a thimbleful of some- 
thing neat, and then it's the mighty proud woman ye '11 be 
entoirely to be waiting for once on the first lady in the 
island. . . . Come in, my daughter, come in." 

He was laughing as he let loose his Irish tongue, but I 
could see that his housekeeper had not been wrong and that 
he looked worn and troubled. 

As soon as he had taken me into his cosy study and put 
me to sit in the big chair before the peat and wood fire, I 
would have begun on my errand, but not a word would he 
hear until the tea had come up and I had taken a cup of it 



I FALL IN LOVE 263 

Then stirring the peats for light as well as warmth, (for 
the room was dark with its lining of books, and the evening 
was closing in) he said: 

"Now what is it? Something serious I can see that 
much. ' ' 

"It is serious, Father Dan." 

"Tell me then,-" he said, and as well as I could I told 
him my story. 

I told him that since I had seen him last, during that 
violent scene at Castle Raa, my relations with my husband 
had become still more painful ; I told him that, seeing I could 
not endure any longer the degradation of the life I was living, 
I had thought about divorce; I told him that going first to 
the Bishop and afterwards to my father's advocate I had 
learned that neither the Church nor the law, for their differ- 
ent reasons, could grant me the relief I required; and finally, 
in a faint voice (almost afraid to hear myself speak it), I told 
him my solemn and sacred secret that whatever happened 
I could not continue to live where I was now living because 
I loved somebody else than my husband. 

"While I was speaking Father Dan was shuffling his feet 
and plucking at his shabby cassock, and as soon as I had 
finished he flashed out on me with an anger I had never 
seen in his face or heard in his voice before. 

"I know who it is," he said. "It's Martin Conrad." 

I was so startled by this that I was beginning to ask how 
he knew, when he cried: 

"Never mind how I know. Perhaps you think an old 
priest has no eyes for anything but his breviary, eh? It's 
young Martin, isn't it?" 

"Yes." 

"The wretch, the rascal, the scoundrel! If he ever dares 
to come to this house again, I'll slam the door in his face." 

I knew he loved Martin almost as much as I did, so I paid 
no heed to the names he was calling him, but I tried to say 
that I alone had been to blame, and that Martin had done 
nothing. 

"Don't tell me he has done nothing," cried Father Dan. 
"I know what he has done. He has told you he loves you, 
hasn't he?" 

"No." 

"He has been colloguing with you, then, and getting you 
to say things?" 



264 THE WOMAN THOU GAYEST ME 

"Never." 

"Pitying and sympathising with you, anyway, in your 
relations with your husoand?" 

"Not for one moment." 

"He had better not! Big man as he is in England now, 
I'll warm his jacket for him if he comes here making mischief 
with a child of mine. But thank the Lord and the holy 
saints he's going awy soon, so you'll see no more of him." 

"But he is coming to Castle Raa," I said, "and I am to see 
him to-morrow night." 

"That too! The young scoundrel!" 

I explained that my husband had invited him, being 
prompted to do so by the other woman. 

"Worse and worse!" cried Father Dan. "Don't you see 
that they're laying a trap for you, and like two young fools 
you're walking directly into it. But no matter! You 
mustn't go." 

I told him that I should be compelled to do so, for Martin 
was coming on my account only, and I could neither tell 
him the truth nor make an excuse that would not be a 
falsehood. 

"Well, well, perhaps you're right there. It's not the best 
way to meet temptation to be always running away from it. 
That's Irish, but it's true enough, though. You must con- 
quer this temptation, my child; you must fight it and over- 
come it." 

"But I've tried and tried and I cannot," I said. 

And then I told him the story of my struggle how love 
had been no happiness to me but only a cruel warfare, how I 
had suffered and prayed and gone to mass and confession, 
yet all to no purpose, for my affection for Martin was like a 
blazing fire which nothing could put out. 

Father Dan's hands and lips were trembling while I spoke 
and I could see that he was shuddering with pity for me, 
so I went on to say that if God had put this pure and holy 
love into my heart could it be wrong 

"Stop a minute," cried Father Dan. "Who says God 
put it there? And who informed you it was pure and holy? 
Let us see where we are. Come, now. You say the Bishop 
told you that you could never be divorced under any cir- 
cumstances ? ' ' 

"Yes." 

"Yet you wish to leave your husband?" 



I FALL IN LOVE 265 

"How can 1 help it? The life I have been living is too 
horrible. ' ' 

"Never mind that now. You wish to leave your husband, 
don't you?" 

"I ... I must." 

"And you want to go to this . . . this young ... in 
short, you want to go to Martin Conrad? That's the plain 
truth, isn't it? Don't deny it. ... Very well, let us call 
things by their proper names. What is the fact? You are 
asking me me, your spiritual Father to allow you to live a 
life of open adultery. That's what it comes to. You know 
it is, and God and His holy Mother have mercy on your 
soul!" 

I was so startled and shocked by his fierce assault, and 
by the cruel climax it had come to, that I flung up my hands 
to my face and kept them there, for I felt as if my brain 
had been stunned and my heart was bursting. 

How long I sat like this, with my hidden face to the fire, 
I do not know; but after a long silence in which I heard 
nothing but my o\vn heaving breath, I became aware that 
Father Dan had drawn one of my hands down to his knee 
and was smoothing it with his own. 

"Don't be angry with your old priest for telling you the 
truth," he said. "It's hard to bear; I know it's hard; 
but it's as hard for him as for you, my child. Think only 
think what he is trying to save you from. If you do what 
you wish to do, you will put yourself out of communion. 
If you put yourself out of communion, you will cease to be a 
Catholic. What will become of you then, my daughter? 
What will be left to replace the consolations of the Church 
in sorrow, in suffering, in the hour of death? Have you 
never thought of that?" 

I never had. It was thrilling through and through me. 

"You say you cannot live any longer with your husband 
because he has broken the vow he made to you at your 
marriage. But think how many many thousands of poor 
women all the world over are doing it every day living 
with adulterous husbands for the sake of their homes and 
children. And not for the sake of their homes and children 
only, but for the sake of their souls and their religion. 
Blessed, blessed martyrs, though we know nothing about 
them, holding society and the Church and the human family 
together. ' ' 



266 THE WOMAN THOU GAVEST ME 

I was trembling all over. I felt as if Father Dan were 
trying to take away from me the only sweet and precious 
thing in my life that was left. 

"Then you think you cannot live without the one you 
love, because all your heart is full of him. But think of the 
holy women, the holy saints, who have gone through the same 
temptation fighting against it with all the strength of their 
souls until the very wounds of our blessed Lord have been 
marked on their bodies." 

He was creeping closer to my side. His voice was quivering 
at my ear. I was struggling hard, and still trembling all over. 

"Hold fast by the Church, my child. It is your only 
refuge. Remember that God made your marriage and you 
cannot break it without forsaking your faith. Can anything 
be good that is bought at such a price? Nothing in this 
.world! When you meet to-morrow night you two children 
tell him that. Tell him I told you to say so. ... I 
love you both. Don't break your old priest's heart. He's 
in trouble enough for you already. Don't let him think 
that he must lose you altogether. And then remember your 
mother, too that saint in heaven who suffered so long and 
was patient. . . . Everything will depend upon you, my 
child. In matters of this kind the woman is the stronger 
vessel. Be strong for him also. Renounce your guilty love, 
my daughter " 

"But I cannot, I cannot," I said. "I love him, and I 
cannot give him up ! " 

"Let us ask God to help you," said Father Dan, and still 
holding my hand he drew me down to my knees and knelt 
beside me. The room was dark by this time, and only the 
sullen glow from the peat fire was on our faces. 

Then in a low voice, so low that it was like his throbbing 
whisper before the altar, when he raised the Sacred Host, 
Father Dan prayed for me (calling me his dear child whom 
God had committed to his care) that I might keep my mar- 
riage vow and be saved from the temptation to break it. 

His beautiful prayer or his throbbing voice, or both to- 
gether, had a great effect upon me, and when I rose to my 
feet, I felt stronger. Although Martin was as dear to me as 
ever, I thought I saw my way at last. If he loved me as I 
loved him, I had to be brave for both of us. I had to oppose 
to the carnal instinct of love the spiritual impulse of re- 
nunciation. Yes, yes, that was what I had to do. 



I FALL IN LOVE 267 

Father Dan saw me to the door. 

"Give my love to my boy," he said, "and don't forget 
what I told you to tell him." 

"Ill tell him," I replied, for though I knew my heart was 
bleeding I felt calm and more courageous. 

It was milking time and the cows were lowing in the byre 
when I crossed the fields and the farm-yard on my way back 
to my father's house. 

Early next morning I left it for Castle Raa. 

SIXTY-THIRD CHAPTER 

ALTHOUGH it was mid-day before I reached the Castle, the 
gate to the park had not been opened, the drive was deserted 
and even the great door to the house itself was closed. 

And when, in answer to my ringing, one of the maids came 
after a certain delay, wearing neither apron nor cap, I found 
the hall empty and no sign of life in the house, except a shrill 
chorus of laughter which came from the servants' quarters. 

' ' What 's the meaning of this ? " I asked, but before the girl 
could reply, Price who had come down to take my wraps said : 

"I'll tell your ladyship presently." 

As we were going upstairs she told me that the entire 
house-party had that morning gone off on a cruise in Mr. 
Eastcliff 's yacht, that they would be away several days, and 
that Madame had left a letter for me which was supposed 
to explain everything. 

I found it on the mantelpiece in my boudoir under an open 
telegram which had been stuck into the edge of the bevelled 
glass. The telegram, which was addressed to me, was from 
Martin. 

"Expect to arrive to-morrow evening. Staying until 
Wednesday afternoon. If not convenient wire Principal's 
House, King George's College." 

"To-morrow?" 

"That means- to-day," said Price. "The telegram came 

yesterday. Madame opened it and she told me to say 

' ' Let me read her letter first, ' ' I said. 
The letter ran as follows: 

"My Dearest Mary, 

"You will be astonished to find the house empty and all 
your racketty guests gone. Let me explain, and if you are 



268 THE WOMAN THOU GAYEST ME 

angry about what has happened you must lay all the blame 
on me. 

"Well, you see, my dear, it was arranged nearly a month 
ago that before we left your delightful house we should make 
a little cruise round your charming island. But we had not 
expected that this would come off so soon, when suddenly 
and unexpectedly that silly Mr. Ea&tcliff, who has no more 
brains than a spring chicken, remembered that he had 
promised to visit a friend who has taken a shoot in Skye. 
Result we had to make the cruise immediately or not at all, 
and yet behold! our hostess was. away on an urgent call of 
sickness, and what in the world were we to do without her? 

"Everybody was in a quandary that wise Mr. Vivian say- 
ing it would be 'jolly bad form by Jove' to go without you, 
while Mr. East cliffs ' deeliglit fully vicked' little Camilla de- 
clared it would be 'vilaynous,' and your husband vowed that 
his Margaret Mary could not possibly be left behind. 

"It was then that a certain friend of yours took the liberty 
of remembering that you did not like the sea, and tJiat even 
if you had been here and had consented to go with us it would 
have been only out of the sweetness of your heart, which I've 
always known to be the tender est and most unselfish in the 
world. 

"This seemed to satisfy the whole house and everybody was 
at ease, when lo! down on us like a thunderbolt came the tele- 
gram from Mr. Conrad. Thinking it might require to be 
repeated, I took the liberty of opening it, and then we were 
in a plight, I assure you. 

"What on earth was he to think of our leaving the house 
ivhen he was on the point of arriving? And, above all, how 
were we to support the disappointment of missing him some 
of us, the women especially, and myself in particular, being 
just crazy to see him again f 

"This nearly broke down our plans altogether, but once 
more I came to the rescue by remembering that Mr. Conrad 
was not coming to se us but you, and that the very kindest 
thing we could do for a serious person of his kind would be 
to take our racketty presence out of the way. 

"That contented everybody except my mother, who would 
you believe it? had gotten some prudish notions into her 
head about the impropriety of leaving you alone, and de- 
clared her intention of staying behind to keep you in counte- 
nance! We soon laughed her out of that, though, and now, to 



I FALL IN LOVE 269 

relieve you of her company, we are carrying her away with 
us which will be lots of fun, for she's, as fond of water as a 
cat and will fancy she is seasick all the time. 

"Good-bye, dearest! We're just off. I envy you. You 
happy, happy girl! I am sure you will have such a good 
time. What a man! As natural as nature! I see by the 
insular paper that your islanders adore him. 

"Hope you found your father better. Another wonderful 
man! Such an original type, too! Good-bye, my dearest 
dear, ALMA. 

"P.S. Have missed you so much, darling! Castle Raa 
wasn't the same place without you I assure you it wasn't." 

While I was turning this letter over in my hand, wondering 
what the beautiful fiend had meant by it, my maid, who was 
standing by, was visibly burning with a desire to know its 
contents and give me the benefit of her own interpretation. 

I told her in general what Alma had said and she burst 
into little screams of indignation. 

"Well, the huzzy! The wicked huzzy! That's all she is, 
my lady, begging your pardon, and there's no other name for 
her. Arranged a month ago, indeed! It was never thought 
of until last night after Mr. Conrad 's telegram came. ' ' 

"Then what does it mean?" 

"I can tell your ladyship what it means, if you'll promise 
not to fly out at me again. It means that Madame wants to 
stand in your shoes, and wouldn't mind going through the 
divorce court to do so. And seeing that you can't be 
tempted to divorce your husband because you are a Catholic, 
she thinks your husband, who isn't, might be tempted to 
divorce you. So she's setting a trap for you, and she ex- 
pects you to fall into it while she's away, and if you do . . ." 

"Impossible!" 

"Oh, trust me, your ladyship. I haven't been keeping my 
ears closed while your ladyship has been away, and if that 
chatterbox of a. maid of hers hadn't been such a fool I sup- 
pose she would have been left behind to watch. But there's 
somebody else in the house who thinks she has a grievance 
against you, and if listening at keyholes will do anything 
. . . Hush!" 

Price stopped suddenly with her finger to her lip, and then 
going on tiptoe to the door she opened it with a jerk, when 



270 THE WOMAN THOU GAVEST ME 

the little housekeeper was to be seen rising to an upright 
position while pretending that she had slipped. 

"I only came to ask if her ladyship had lunched?" she 
said. 

I answered that I had not, and then told her (so as to give 
her no further excuse for hanging about me) that in future 
she was to take her orders from Price an announcement 
which caused my maid to stand several inches taller in her 
shoes, and sent the housekeeper hopping downstairs with her 
beak in the air like an injured cockatoo. 

All the afternoon I was in a state of the utmost agitation, 
sometimes wondering what Martin would think of the bad 
manners of my husband, who after inviting him had gone 
away just as he was about to arrive; sometimes asking my- 
self, with a quiver of shame, if he would imagine that this 
was a scheme of my own contriving; but oftenest remember- 
ing my resolution of renunciation and thinking of the much 
fiercer fight that was before me now that I had to receive 
and part with him alone. 

More than once I had half a mind to telegraph to Martin 
putting him off, and though I told myself that to do so 
would not be renunciation but merely flight from temptation, 
I always knew at the bottom of my heart that I really wanted 
him to come. 

Nevertheless I vowed to my very soul that I should be 
strong strong in every word and look and if Alma was 
daring me I should defy her, and she would see that I 
should neither yield nor run away. 

Thus I entrenched myself at last in a sort of bright strong 
faith in my power to resist temptation. But I must leave it 
to those who know better than I the way to read a woman's 
heart to say how it came to pass that towards five o'clock, 
when I heard the sound of wheels and going on to my balcony 
saw a jaunting-car at the front entrance, and then opening 
my door heard Martin's great voice in the hall, I flew down- 
stairs literally flew in my eagerness to welcome him. 

There he was in his brown Harris tweeds and soft slouch 
hat with such an atmosphere of health and sweep of winds 
about him as almost took away my breath. 

"Helloa!" he cried, and I am sure his eyes brightened at 
the sight of me for they were like the sea when the sun 
shines on it. 

"You're better, aren't you?" he said. "No need to ask 
that, though the colour in your face is wonderful. ' ' 



I FALL IN LOVE 271 

In spite of my resolution, and the attempt I made to show 
him only a kind of glad seriousness, I could not help it if I 
blushed. Also I could not help it if, while going upstairs and 
telling him what had happened to the house-party, I said he 
was doomed to the disappointment of having nobody except 
myself for company, and then, woman-like, waited eagerly 
for what he would say. 

"So they're all gone except yourself, are they?" he said. 

"I'm afraid they are," I answered. 

"Well, if it had been the other way about, and you had 
gone and they had stayed, by the stars of God, I should have 
been disappointed. But things being as they are, we'll 
muddle through, shan't we?" 

Not all the vows in the world could prevent me from find- 
ing that answer delightful, and when, on entering my 
boudoir, he said: 

"Sorry to miss Madame though. I wanted a word with that 
lady before I went down to the Antarctic, ' ' I could not resist 
the mischievous impulse to show him Alma's letter. 

While he read it his bright face darkened (for all the 
world like a jeweller's window when the shutter comes down 
on it), and when he had finished it he said once more: 

"I hate that woman! She's like a snake. I'd like to put 
my foot on it. ' ' 

And then 

"She may run away as much as she likes, but I will yet, 
you go bail, I will." 

He was covered with dust and wanted to wash, so I rang 
for a maid, who told me that Mr. and Mrs. Eastcliff 's rooms 
had been prepared for Mr. Conrad. This announcement 
(though I tried to seem unmoved) overwhelmed me with 
confusion, seeing that the rooms in question almost com- 
municated with my own. But Martin only laughed and said : 

"Stunning! We'll live in this wing of the house and leave 
the rest of the old barracks to the cats, should we ? " 

I was tingling with joy, but all the same I knew that a 
grim battle was before me. 

SIXTY-FOURTH CHAPTER 

BY the time he returned from his room I had tea served in 
my boudoir, and while we sat facing the open door to the 
balcony he told me about his visit to his old school; how at 



272 THE WOMAN THOU GAYEST ME 

the dinner on the previous night the Principal had proposed 
his health, and after the lads had sung ' ' Forty Years On " he 
had told them yarns about his late expedition until they 
made the long hiss of indrawn breath which is peculiar to 
boys when they are excited ; how they had followed him to his 
bedroom as if he had been the Pied Piper of Hamelin and 
questioned him and clambered over him until driven off by 
the house-master; and how, finally, before he was out of bed 
this morning the smallest scholar in the junior house, a tiny 
little cherub with the face of his mother, had come knocking 
at his door to ask if he wanted a cabin boy. 

Martin laughed as if he had been a boy himself (which he 
always was and always will be) while telling me these stories, 
and I laughed too, though with a certain tremor, for I was 
constantly remembering my resolution and feeling afraid to 
be too happy. 

After tea we went out on to the balcony, and leaned side 
by side over the crumbling stone balustrade to look at the 
lovely landscape loveliest when the sun is setting on it 
with the flower-garden below and the headland beyond, 
covered with heather and gorse and with a winding white 
path lying over it like the lash of a whip until it dipped down 
to the sea. 

"It's a beautiful old world, though, isn't it?" said Martin. 

"Isn't it?" I answered, and we looked into each other's 
eyes and smiled. 

Then we heard the light shsh of a garden hose, and look- 
ing down saw an old man watering the geraniums. 

"Sakes alive! It's Tommy the Mate," cried Martin, and 
leaving me on the balcony he went leaping down the stone 
stairway to greet his old comrade. 

"God bless me!" said Tommy. "Let me have a right 
look at ye. Yes, yes, it's himself, for sure." 

A little gale of tender memories floated up to me from my 
childhood at seeing those two together again, with Martin 
now standing head and shoulders above the old man's 
Glengarry cap. 

"You've been over the highways of the sea, farther than 
Franklin himself, they're telling me," said Tommy, and 
when Martin, laughing merrily, admitted that he had been 
farther south at all events, the old sailor said: 

"Well, well! Think of that now! But wasn't I always 
telling the omadhauns what you'd be doing some day?" 



I FALL IN LOVE 273 

Then with a "glime" of his "starboard eye" in my direc- 
tion he said: 

"You haven't got a woman yet though? . . . No, I 
thought not. You're like myself, boy there's not many of 
them sorts in for you." 

After that, and a more undisguised look my way, the old 
man talked about me, still calling me the "lil misthress" and 
saying they were putting a power of gold on my fingers, but 
he would be burning candles to the miracles of God to see 
the colour of it in my cheeks too. 

' ' She 's a plant that doesn 't take kindly to a hot-house same 
as this," (indicating the house) "and shell not be thriving 
until somebody's bedding her out, I'm thinking." 

It was Saturday, and after dinner Martin proposed that we 
should walk to the head of the cliff to see Blackwater by night, 
which was a wonderful spectacle, people said, at the height 
of the season, so I put a silk wrap over my head and we set 
out together. 

There was no moon and few stars were visible, but it was 
one of those luminous nights in summer which never forget 
the day. Therefore we walked without difficulty along the 
white winding path with its nutty odour of the heather and 
gorse until we came near the edge of the cliff, and then sud- 
denly the town burst upon our view, with its promenades, 
theatres, and dancing palaces ablaze with electric light, which 
was reflected with almost equal brilliance in the smooth water 
of the bay. 

We were five miles from Blackwater, but listening hard we 
thought we could hear, through the boom of the sea on the 
dark cliffs below us, the thin sounds of the bands that were 
playing in the open-air pavilions, and looking steadfastly 
we thought we could see, in the black patches under the white 
light, the movement of the thousands of persons who were 
promenading along "the front." 

This led Martin to talk of my father, saying as we walked 
back, with the dark outlines of the sleeping mountains con- 
fronting us, what a marvellous man he had been to trans- 
form in twenty years the little fishing and trading port into a 
great resort for hundreds of thousands of pleasure-seekers. 

"But is he any better or happier for the wealth it has 
brought him, and for the connections he has bought with it? 
Is anybody any better?" said Martin. 

s 



274 THE WOMAN THOU GAYEST ME 

"I know one who isn't," I answered. 

I had not meant to say that. It had slipped out unawares, 
and in my confusion at the self -revelation which it seemed to 
make, I tripped in the darkness and would have fallen if 
Martin had not caught me up. 

In doing this he had to put his arms about me and to hold 
me until I was steady on my feet, and having done so he took 
my hand and drew it through his arm and in this way we 
walked the rest of the way back. 

It would be impossible and perhaps foolish to say what that 
incident meant to me. I felt a thrill of joy, a quivering flood 
of delight which, with all the raptures of my spiritual love, 
had never come to me before. 

Every woman who loves her husband must know what it is, 
but to me it was a great revelation. It was just as if some new 
passion had sprung into life in me at a single moment. And 
it had the mighty passion that lies at the root of our being, 
the overwhelming instinct of sex which, taking no account of 
religion and resolutions, sweeps everything before it like a 
flood. 

I think Martin must have felt it too, for all at once he ceased 
to speak, and I was trembling so much with this new feeling 
of tenderness that I could not utter a word. So I heard noth- 
ing as we walked on but the crackle of our footsteps on the 
gravel path and the measured boom of the sea which we were 
leaving behind us nothing but that and the quick beating 
in my own breast. 

When we came to the garden the frowning face of the old 
house was in front of us, and it was all in darkness, save for 
the light in my room which came out on to the balcony. 
Everything was quiet. The air was breathless. There was 
not a rustle in the trees. 

We took two or three turns on the lawn in front of m;- 
windows, saying nothing but feeling terribly, fearfully happy. 
After a few moments (or they seemed few) a cuckoo clock on 
my desk struck eleven, and we went up the stone stairway 
into my boudoir and parted for the night. 

Even then we did not speak, but Martin took my hand and 
lifted my fingers to his lips, and the quivering delight I had 
been feeling ever since I slipped on the headland rushed 
through me again. 

At the next moment I was in my room. I did not turn on 
the light. I undressed in the darkness and when my maid 



I FALL IN LOVE 275 

came I was in bed. She wanted to tell me about a scene 
with the housekeeper in the kitchen, but I said : 

"I don't want to talk to-night, Price." 

I did not know what was happening to me. I only knew, 
for the first time that night, that above everything else I was 
a woman, and that my renunciation, if it was ever to come to 
pass, would be a still more tragic thing than I had expected. 

My grim battle had begun. 

SIXTY-FIFTH CHAPTER 

WHEN I awoke in the morning I took myself severely to task. 
Was this how I was fulfilling the promise I had made to 
Martin's mother, or preparing to carry out the counsel of 
Father Dan ? 

"I must be more careful," I told myself. "I must keep a 
stronger hold of myself." 

The church bells began to ring, and I determined to go 
to mass. I wanted to go alone and much as I grudged every 
minute of Martin's company which I lost, I was almost glad 
when, on going into the boudoir with my missal in my hand, 
I found him at a table covered with papers and heard him say : 

"Helloa! See these letters and telegrams? Sunday as 
it is I've got to answer them." 

Our church was a little chapel-of-ease on the edge of my 
husband's estate, opened, after centuries of neglect, by the 
bad Lord Raa, in his regenerate days, for the benefit of the 
people of his own village. It was very sweet to see their 
homely faces as they reverently bowed and rose, and even to 
hear their creachy voices when they joined in the singing of 
the Gloria. 

Following the gospel there was a sermon on the words 
"Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil." The 
preacher was a young curate, the brother of my husband's 
coachman ; and it occurred to me that he could know very 
little of temptation for himself, but the instruction he gave us 
was according to' the doctrine of our Church, as I had received 
it from the Reverend Mother and the Cardinals who used to 
hold retreats at the convent. 

"Beware of the temptations of the flesh, my children," said 
the priest. ' ' The Evil One is very subtle, and not only in our 
moments of pride and prosperity, but also in our hours of 
sorrow and affliction, he is for ever waiting and watching to 
betray us to our downfall and damnation." 



276 THE WOMAN THOU GAVEST ME 

In the rustling that followed the sermon a poor woman who 
sat next to me, with a print handkerchief over her head, 
whispered in my ear that she was sorry she had not brought 
her husband, for he had given way to drink, poor fellow, since 
the island had had such good times and wages had been 
so high. 

But the message came closer home to me. Remembering 
the emotions of the night before, I prayed fervently to be 
strengthened against all temptation and preserved from all 
sin. And when the mass was resumed I recalled some of the 
good words with which I had been taught to assist at the Holy 
Sacrifice praying at the Credo that as I had become a child 
in the bosom of the Church I might live and die in it. 

When the service was over I felt more at ease and I emptied 
my purse, I remember, partly into the plate and partly to the 
poor people at the church door. 

It was in this spirit that I returned home in the broad 
sunshine of noonday. But half way up the drive I met Martin 
walking briskly down to meet me. He was bareheaded and 
in flannels; and I could not help it if he looked to me so 
good, so strong, and so well able to protect a woman against 
every danger, that the instructions I had received in church, 
and the resolutions I had formed there, seemed to run out of 
my heart as rapidly as the dry sand of the sea-shore runs 
through one's fingers. 

"Helloa!" he cried, as usual. "The way I've been wasting 
this wonderful morning over letters and telegrams! But not 
another minute will I give to anything under the stars of God 
but you." 

If there was any woman in the world who could have 
resisted that greeting I was not she, and though I was a little 
confused I was very happy. 

As we walked back to the house we talked of my father and 
his sudden illness, then of his mother and my glimpse of her, 
and finally of indifferent things, such as the weather, which 
had been a long drought and might end in a deluge. 

By a sort of mutual consent we never once spoke of the 
central subject of our thoughts my marriage and its fatal 
consequences but I noticed that Martin's voice was soft and 
caressing, that he was walking close to my side, and that 
as often as I looked up at him he was looking down at me and 
smiling. 

It was the same after luncheon when we went out into the 



I FALL IN LOVE 277 

garden and sat on a seat in the shrubbery almost imme- 
diately facing my windows, and he spread a chart on a rustic 
table and pointing to a red line on it said: 

"Look, this is the course of our new cruise, please God." 

He talked for a long time, about his captain and crew; the 
scientific experts who had volunteered to accompany him; 
his aeronautic outfit, his sledges and his skis; but whatever 
ae talked about if it was only his dogs and the food he had 
found for them it was always in that soft, caressing voice 
Trhich made me feel as if (though he never said one word of 
love) he were making love to me, and saying the sweetest 
things a man could say to a woman. 

After a time I found myself answering in the same tones, 
and even when speaking on the most matter-of-fact subjects I 
felt as if I were saying the sweetest things a woman could say 
to a man. 

We sat a long time so, and every moment we were together 
seemed to make our relation more perilous, until at length the 
sweet seductive twilight of the shortening autumn day began 
to frighten me, and making excuse of a headache I said I must 
go indoors. 

He walked with me up the stone-stairway and into my 
boudoir, until we got to the very door of my room, and then 
suddenly he took up both my hands and kissed them passion- 
ately. 

I felt the colour rushing to my cheeks and I had an almost 
irresistible impulse to do something in return. But conquering 
it with a great effort, I turned quickly into my bedroom, shut 
the door, pulled down the blinds and then sat and covered my 
face and asked myself, with many bitter pangs, if it could 
possibly be true (as I had been taught to believe) that our 
nature was evil and our senses were always tempting us to our 
destruction. 

Several hours passed while I sat in the darkness with this 
warfare going on between my love and my religion, and then 
Price came to dregs me for dinner, and she was full of cheerful 
gossip. 

"Men are such children," she said; "they can't help giving 
themselves away, can they?" 

It turned out that after I had left the lawn she had had 
some conversation with Martin, and I could see that she was 
eager to tell me what he had said about myself. 

"The talk began about your health and altered looks, my 



278 THE WOMAN THOU GAVEST ME 

lady. ' Don 't you think your mistress is looking ill ? ' said he. 
'A little,' I said. 'But her body is not so ill as her heart, if 
you ask me,' said I." 

"You nover said that, Price?" 

"Well, I could not help saying it if I thought so, could I?" 

"And Avhat did he say?" 

"He didn't say anything then, my lady, but when I said, 
' You see, sir, my lady is tied to a husband she doesn 't love, ' 
he said, ' How can she, poor thing ? ' ' Worse than that, ' I said, 
'her husband loves another woman.' 'The fool! Where does 
he keep his eyes?' said he. 'Worse still,' said I, 'he flaunts 
his infidelities in her very face.' 'The brute!' he said, and 
his face looked so fierce that you would have thought he 
wanted to take his lordship by the throat and choke him. 
'Why doesn't she leave the man?' said he. 'That's what 1 
say, sir, but I think it's her religion,' I said. 'Then God help 
her, for there 's no remedy for that, ' said he. And then seeing 
him so down I said, 'But we women are always ruled by our 
hearts in the long run.' 'Do you think so?' said he. 'I'm 
sure of it, ' said I, ' only we must have somebody to help us, ' I 
said. 'There's her father,' said he. 'A father is of no use 
in a case like this, ' I said, ' especially such a one as my lady 's 
is, according to all reports. No,' said I, 'it must be somebody 
else somebody who cares enough for a woman to risk every- 
thing for her, and just take her and make her do what's best 
for herself whether she likes it or not. Now if somebody 
like that were to come to my lady, and get her out of her 
trouble,' I said. . . . 'Somebody will,' said he. 'Make 
your mind easy about that. Somebody will,' he said, and then 
he went on walking to and fro." 

Price told this story as if she thought she was bringing me 
the gladdest of glad tidings; but the idea that Martin had 
come back into my life to master me, to take possession of me, 
to claim me as his own (just as he did when I was a child) 
and thereby compel me to do what I had promised his 
mother and Father Dan not to do this was terrifying. 

But there w-as a secret joy in it too, and every woman will 
know what I mean if I say that my heart was beating high 
with the fierce delight of belonging to somebody when I 
returned to the boudoir where Martin was waiting to sit 
down to dinner. 

Then came a great surprise. 

Martin was standing with his back to the fire-place, and I 



I FALL IN LOVE 279 

saw in a moment that the few hours which had intervened 
had changed him as much as they had changed me. 

"Helloa! Better, aren't we?" he cried, but he was now 
cold, almost distant, and even his hearty voice seemed to have 
sunk to a kind of nervous treble. 

I could not at first understand this, but after a while I began 
to see that we two had reached the point beyond which it was 
impossible to go without encountering the most tremendous 
fact of our lives my marriage and all that was involved by it. 

During dinner we spoke very little. He seemed intention- 
ally not to look at me. The warm glances of his sea-blue eyes, 
which all the afternoon had been making the colour mount 
to my cheeks, had gone, and it sent a cold chill to my heart to 
look across the table at his clouded face. But sometimes 
when he thought my own face was down I was conscious that 
his eyes were fixed on me with a questioning, almost an 
imploring gaze. His nervousness communicated itself to me. 
It was almost as if we had begun to be afraid of each other 
and were hovering on the brink of fatal revelations. 

When dinner was over, the table cleared and the servants 
gone, I could bear the strain no longer, so making excuse 
of a letter I had to write to the Reverend Mother I sat down 
at my desk, whereupon Martin lit a cigar and said he would 
stroll over the headland. 

I heard his footsteps going down the stone stairway from" 
the balcony ; I heard their soft thud on the grass of the lawn ; 
I heard their sharper crackle on the gravel of the white path, 
and then they mingled with the surge and wash of the flowing 
tide and died away in the distance. 

I rose from the desk, and going over to the balcony door 
looked out into the darkness. It was a beautiful, pathetic, 
heart -breaking night. No moon, but a perfect canopy of stars 
in a deep blue sky. The fragrance of unseen flowers sweet- 
briar and rose as well as ripening fruit came up from the 
garden. There was no wind either, not even the rustle of a 
leaf, and the last bird of evening was silent. All the great 
orchestra of nature was still, save for the light churning of 
the water running in the glen and the deep organ song of the 
everlasting sea. 

"What can I do?" I asked myself. 

Now that Martin was gone I had begun to understand him. 
His silence had betrayed his heart to me even more than his 
speech could have done. Towering above him like a frowning 



280 THE WOMAN THOU GAYEST ME 

mountain was the fact that I was a married woman and he 
was trying to stand erect in his honour as a man. 

"He must be suffering too," I told myself. 

That was a new thought to me and it cut me to the quick. 

When it came to me first I wanted to run after him and 
throw myself into his arms, and then I wanted to run away 
from him altogether. 

I felt as if I were on the brink of two madnesses the 
madness of breaking my marriage vows and the madness of 
breaking the heart of the man who loved me. 

"Oh, what can I do?" I asked myself again. 

I wanted him to go ; I wanted him to stay ; I did not know 
what I wanted. At length I remembered that in ordinary 
course he would be going in two days more, and I said to 
myself : 

' ' Surely I can hold out that long. ' ' 

But when I put this thought to my breast, thinking it 
would comfort me, I found that it burnt like hot iron. 

Only two days, and then he would be gone, lost to me 
perhaps for ever. Did my renunciation require that? It 
was terrible! 

There was a piano in the room, and to strengthen and 
console myself in my trouble I sat down to it and played 
and sang. I sang "Ave Maris Stella." 

I was singing to myself, so I know I began softly so softly 
that my voice must have been a whisper scarcely audible 
outside the room 

"Hail thou star of ocean, 
Portal of the sky." 

But my heart was full and when I came to the verses which 
always moved me most 

"Virgin of all virgins, 
To thy shelter take us" 

my voice, without my knowing it, may have swelled out into 
the breathless night until it reached Martin, where he walked 
on the dark headland, and sounded to him like a cry that 
called him back. 

I cannot say. I only know that when with a thickening 
throat I had come to an end, and my forehead had fallen 
on to the key-board, and there was no other sound in the 



I FALL IN LOVE 281 

air but the far-off surging of the sea, I heard somebody 
calling me in a soft and tremulous whisper, 

"Mary!" 

It was he. I went out to the balcony and there he was 
on the lawn below. The light of the room was on him and 
never before had I seen his strong face so full of agitation. 

"Come down," he said. "I have something to say to 
you." 

I could not resist him. He was my master. I had to obey. 

When I reached the bottom of the stairway he took my 
hand, and I did not know whether it was his hand or mine 
that was trembling. He led me across the lawn to the seat 
in the shrubbery that almost faced my windows. In the 
soft and soundless night I could hear his footsteps on the 
turf and the rustle of my dress over the grass. 

We sat, and for a moment he did not speak. Then with 
a passionate rn-h of words he said: 

"Mary, I hadn't meant to say what I'm going to say now, 
but I can't do anything else. You are in trouble, and I can't 
stand by and see you so ill-used. I can't and I won't!" 

I tried to answer him, but my throat was fluttering and I 
could not speak. 

"It's only a few days before I ought to sail, but they may 
be enough in which to do something, and if they're not I'll 
postpone the expedition or put it off, or send somebody in 
my place, for go away I cannot and leave you like this." 

I tried to say that he should not do that whatever happened 
to me, but still I could not speak. 

"Mary, I want to help you. But I can only do so if you 
give me the right to do it. Nobody must tell me I 'm a meddler, 
butting in where I have no business. There are people 
enough about you who would be only too ready to do that 
people related to you by blood and by law." 

I knew what he was coming to, for his voice was quivering 
in my ears like the string of a bow. 

"There is only one sort of right, Mary, that is above the 
right of blood, and you know what that is." 

My eyes were growing so dim that I could hardly see the 
face which was so close to mine. 

"Mary," he said, "I have always cared for you. Surely 
you know that. By the saints of God I swear there has never 
been any other girl for me, and now there never will be. 
Perhaps I ought to have told you this before, and I wanted 



282 THE WOMAN THOU GAYEST ME 

to do so when I met you in Rome. But it didn't seem fair, 
and I couldn 't bring myself to do it. ' ' 

His passionate voice was breaking; I thought my heart 
was breaking also. 

"All I could do I did, but it came to nothing; and now you 
are here and you are unhappy, and though it is so late I 
want to help you, to rescue you, to drag you out of this 
horrible situation before I go away. Let me do it. Give 
me the right of one you care enough for to allow him to 
speak on your behalf." 

I knew what that meant. I knew that I was tottering on 
the very edge of a precipice, and to save myself I tried to 
think of Father Dan, of Martin's mother, of my own mother, 
and since I could not speak I struggled to pray. 

' ' Don 't say you can 't. If you do I shall go away a sorrow- 
ful man. I shall go at once too to-night or to-morrow morn- 
ing at latest, for my heart bleeds to look at you and I can't 
stay here any longer to see you suffer. It is not torture to 
me it's hell!" 

And then the irrepressible, overwhelming, inevitable moment 
came. Martin laid hold of my right hand and said in his 
tremulous voice: 

"Mary . . . Mary ... I ... I love you!" 

I could hear no more. I could not think or pray or resist 
any longer. The bitter struggle was at an end. Before I 
knew what I was doing I was dropping my head on to his 
breast and he with a cry of joy was gathering me in his arms. 

I was his. He had taken his own. Nothing counted in 
the presence of our love. To be only we two together that 
was everything. The world and the world's laws, the Church 
and the Canons of the Church were blotted out, forgotten, 
lost. 

For some moments I hardly breathed. I was only conscious 
that over my head Martin was saying something that seemed 
to come to me with all the deep and wonderful whispers of his 
heart. 

"Then it's true! It's true that you love me! Yes, it's 
true ! It's true ! No one shall hurt you again. Never again ! 
No, by the Lord God!" 

And then suddenly as suddenly as the moment of in- 
toxication had come to me I awoke from my delirium. Some 
little thing awakened me. I hardly know what it was. Per- 



I FALL IN LOVE 283 

haps it was only the striking of the cuckoo clock in my 
room. 

"What are we doing?" I said. 

Everything had rolled back on me my marriage, Father 
Dan's warning, my promise to Martin's mother. 

"Where are we?" I said. 

"Hush! Don't speak," said Martin. "Let us think of 
nothing to-night nothing except our love." 

"Don't say that," I answered. "We are not free to love 
each other," and then, trying to liberate myself from his 
encircling arms I cried: 

' ' God help me ! God forgive me ! " 

"Wait!" said Martin, holding me a moment longer. "I 
know what you feel, and I'm not the man to want a girl 
to wrong her conscience. But there's one question I must 
ask you. If you ivere free, could you love me then?" 

"Don't ask me that. I must not answer it." 

* ' You must and shall, ' ' said Martin. ' ' Could you ? ' ' 

"Yes." 

"That's enough for me enough for to-night anyway. 
Have no fear. All shall be well. Go to your room now." 

He raised me to my feet and led me back to the foot of the 
balcony, and there he kissed my hand and let me go. 

"Good night!" he said softly. 

"Good night!" I answered. 

"God bless you, my pure sweet girl!" 

At the next moment I was in my room, lying face down 
on my bed seeing no hope on any side, and sobbing my 
heart out for what might have been but for the hard law of 
my religion and the cruel tangle of my fate. 

SIXTY-SIXTH CHAPTER 

NEXT morning, Monday morning, while I was breakfasting 
in my bedroom, Price came with a message from Martin to 
say that he was going into the glen and wished to know 
if I would go with him. 

I knew perfectly what that meant. He wished to tell me 
what steps he intended to take towards my divorce, and my 
heart trembled with the thought of the answer I had to give 
him that divorce for me, under any circumstances, was quite 
impossible. 

Sorry as I was for myself I was still more sorry for Martin. 



284 THE WOMAN THOU GAVEST ME 

I felt like a judge who had to pronounce sentence upon him 
dooming his dearest hopes to painful and instant death. 

I could hear him on the lawn with Tommy the Mate, 
laughing like a boy let loose from school, and when I went 
down to him he greeted me with a cry of joy that was almost 
heart-breaking. 

Our way to the glen was through a field of grass, where 
the dew was thick, and, my boots being thin, Martin in his 
high spirits wished to carry me across, and it was only with 
an effort that I prevented him from doing so. 

The glen itself when we reached it (it was called Glen 
Raa) was almost cruelly beautiful that day, and remembering 
what I had to do in it I thought I should never be able to 
get it out of my sight with its slumberous gloom like that 
of a vast cathedral, its thick arch of overhanging boughs 
through which the morning sunlight was streaming slantwards 
like the light through the windows of a clerestory, its running 
water below, its rustling leaves above, and the chirping of its 
birds on every side, making a sound that was like the chanting 
of a choir in some far-off apse and the rumbling of their 
voices in the roof. 

Two or three times, as we walked down the glen towards 
a port (Port Raa) which lay at the seaward end of it, Martin 
rallied me on the settled gravity of my face and then I had to 
smile, though how I did so I do not know, for every other 
minute my heart was in my mouth, and never more so than 
when, to make me laugh, he rattled away in the language of his 
boyhood, saying: 

" Isn't this stunning? Splendiferous, eh?" 

When we came out at the mouth of the port, where a line 
of little stunted oaks leaned landward as with the memory 
of many a winter's storm, Martin said: 

"Let us sit down here." 

We sat on the sloping bank, with the insects ticking in the 
grass, the bees humming in the air, the sea fowl screaming 
in the sky, the broad sea in front, and the little bay below, 
where the tide, which was going out, had left behind it a 
sharp reef of black rocks covered with sea-weed. 

A pleasure-steamer passed at that moment with its flags 
flying, its awnings spread, its decks crowded with excursionists, 
and a brass band playing one of Sousa's marches, and as soon 
as it had gone, Martin said: 

"I've been thinking about our affair, Mary, how to go to 



I FALL IN LOVE 285 

work and all that, and of course the first thing we've got to 
.do is to get a divorce." 

I made no answer, and I tried not to look at him by fixing 
my eyes upon the sea. 

"You have evidence enough, you know, and if you haven't 
there's Price she has plenty. So, since you've given me 
the right to speak for you, dear, I'm going to speak to your 
father first." 

I must have made some half-articulate response, for not 
understanding me he said: 

' ' Oh, I know he '11 be a hard nut to crack. He won 't want 
to hear what I Ve got to say, but he has got to hear it. And 
after all you're his daughter, and if he has any bowels of 
compassion . . ." 

Again I must have made some effort to speak, for he said : 

"Yes, he's ill, but he has only to set Curphy to work and 
the lawyer will do the rest. ' ' 

I could not allow him to go any further, so I blurted out 
somehow that I had seen my father already. 

"On this subject?" 

"Yes." 

"And what did he say?" 

I told him as well as I could what my father had said, 
being ashamed to repeat it. 

"That was only bluff, though," said Martin. "The real 
truth is that you would cease to be Lady Raa and that would 
be a blow to his pride. Then there would no longer be any 
possibility of establishing a family and that would disturb 
his plans. No matter! We can set Curphy to work our- 
selves. ' ' 

"But I have seen Mr. Curphy also," I said. 

"And what did he say?" 

I told him what the lawyer had said and he was aghast. 

"Good heavens! What an iniquity! In England too! 
But never mind! There are other countries where this relic 
of the barbaric ages doesn't exist. We'll go there. We 
must get you a divorce somehow." 

My time had come. I could keep back the truth no longer. 

"But Martin," I said, "divorce is impossible for me quite 
impossible. ' ' 

And then I told him that I had been to see the Bishop 
also, and he had said what I had known before, though in the 
pain of my temptation I had forgotten it, that the Catholic 



286 THE WOMAN THOU GAYEST ME 

Church did not countenance divorce under any circumstances, 
because God made marriages and therefore no man could 
dissolve them. 

Martin listened intently, and in his eagerness to catch every 
word he raised himself to a kneeling position by my side, so 
that he was looking into my face. 

"But Mary, my dear Mary," he said, "you don't mean to 
say you will allow such considerations to influence you?" 

"I am a Catholic what else can I do?" I said. 

"But think my dear, dear girl, think how unreasonable, 
how untrue, how preposterous it all is in a case like yours? 
God made your marriage? Yours? God married you to 
that notorious profligate ? Can you believe it ? " 

His eyes were flaming. I dared not look at them. 

"Then think again. They say there's no divorce in the 
Catholic Church, do they? But what are they talking about? 
Morally speaking you are a divorced woman already. Any- 
body with an ounce of brains can see that. "When you were 
married to this man he made a contract with you, and he has 
broken the terms of it, hasn 't he ? Then where 's the contract 
now? It doesn't any longer exist. Your husband has de- 
stroyed it." 

"But isn't marriage different?" I asked. 

And then I tried to tell him what the Bishop had said of the 
contract of marriage being unlike any other contract because 
Gcd Himself had become a party to it. 

"What?" he cried. "God become a party to a marriage 
like yours? My dear girl, only think! Think of what your 
marriage has been the pride and vanity and self-seeking that 
conceived it, the compulsion that was put upon you to carry 
it through, and then the shame and the suffering and the 
wickedness and the sin of it ! Was God a party to the making 
of a marriage like that?" 

In his agitation he rose, walked two or three paces in front 
and came back to me. 

"Then think what it means if your marriage may not be 
dissolved. It means that you must go on living with this 
man whose life is so degrading. Year in, year out, as- long 
as your life lasts you must let him humiliate and corrupt you 
with his company, his companions and his example, until you 
are dragged down, down, down to the filth he lives in himself, 
and your very soul is contaminated. Is that what the Church 
asks of you?" 



I FALL IN LOVE 287 

I answered no, and tried to tell him what the Bishop had 
told me about separation, but he interrupted me with a shout. 

"Separation? Did he say that? If the Church has no 
right to divorce you what right has it to separate you! . . . 
Oh, I see what it will say hope of reconciliation. But if you 
were separated from your husband would you ever go back to 
him ? Never in this world. Then what would your separation 
be ? Only divorce under another name. ' ' 

I was utterly shaken. Perhaps I wanted to believe what 
Martin was saying ; perhaps I did not know enough to answer 
him, but I could not help it if I thought Martin's clear mind 
was making dust and ashes of everything that Father Dan 
and the Bishop had said to me. 

"Then what can I do?" I asked. 

I thought his face quivered at that question. He got up 
again, and stood before me for a moment without speaking. 
Then he said, with an obvious effort 

"If your Church will not allow you to divorce your hus- 
band, and if you and I cannot marry without that, then ..." 

"Yes?" 

"I didn't mean to propose it ... God knows I didn't, 
but when a woman . . . when a woman has been forced 
into a loveless marriage, and it is crushing the very soul out 
of her, and the iron law of her Church will not permit her to 
escape from it, what crime does she commit if she . . ." 

' ' Well ? " I asked, though I saw what he was going to say. 

"Mary," he said, breathing hard and fast, "you must 
come to me." 

I made a sudden cry, though I tried not to. 

"Oh, I know," he said. "It's not what we could wish. 
But we'll be open about it. We'll face it out. Why shouldn't 
we? I shall anyway. And if your father and the Bishop 
say anything to me 111 tell them what I think of the abom- 
inable marriage they forced you into. As for you, dear, I 
know you'll have to bear something. All the conventional 
canting hypocrisies! Every man who has bought his wife, 
and every woman who has sold herself into concubinage 
there are thousands and thousands of them all the world 
over, and they'll try . . . perhaps they'll try . . . 
but let them try. If they want to trample the life out of you 
they 11 have to walk over me first yes, by God they will!" 

"But Martin . . ." 

"Well?" 



288 THE WOMAN THOU GAVEST ME 

"Do you mean that I ... I am . . . to . . , 
to live with you without marriage ? ' ' 

"It's the only thing possible, isn't it!" he said. And 
then he tried to show me that love was everything, and if 
people loved each other nothing else mattered religious cere- 
monies were nothing, the morality of society was nothing, the 
world and its back-biting was nothing. 

The great moment had come for me at last, and though I 
felt torn between love and pity I had to face it. 

"Martin, I ... I can't do it," I said. 

He looked steadfastly into my face for a moment, but I 
dare not look back, for I knew he was suffering. 

"You think it would be wrong?" 

"Yes." 

"A sin?" 

I tried to say "Yes" again, but my reply died in my throat. 

There was another moment of silence and then, in a faltering 
voice that nearly broke me down, he said: 

"In that case there is nothing more to say. . . . There 
isn't, is there?" 

I made an effort to speak, but my voice would not come. 

"I thought ... as there was no other way of escape 
from this terrible marriage . . . but if you think . . ." 

He stopped, and then coming closer he said : 

"I suppose you know what this means for you, Mary 
that after all the degradation you have gone through you are 
shutting the door to a worthier, purer life, and that . . ." 

I could bear no more. My heart was yearning for him, 
yet I was compelled to speak. 

"But would it be a purer life, Martin, if it began in sin? 
No, no, it wouldn't, it couldn't. Oh, you can't think how 
hard it is to deny myself the happiness you offer me. It's 
harder than all the miseries my husband has inflicted upon 
me. But it wouldn't be happiness, because our sin would 
stand between us. That would always be there, Martin 
every day, every night, as long as ever we lived. . . . We 
should never know one really happy hour. I 'm sure we should 
not. I should be unhappy myself and I should make you 
unhappy. Oh, I daren't! I daren't! Don't ask me, I 
beg I beseech you." 

I burst into tears after this, and there was a long silence 
between us. Then Martin touched my arm and said with a 
gentleness that nearly broke my heart: 



I FALL IN LOVE 289 

" Don't cry, Mary. I give in. I find I have no will but 
yours, dear. If you can bear the present condition of things, 
/ ought to be able to. Let us go back to the house." 

He raised me to my feet and we turned our faces homeward. 

All the brightness of the day had gone for both of us by this 
time. The tide was now far out. Its moaning was only a 
distant murmur. The shore was a stretch of jagged black 
rocks covered with sea- weed. 

SIXTY-SEVENTH CHAPTER 

NOTWITHSTANDING Martin 's tenderness I had a vague fear that 
he had only pretended to submit to my will, and before the 
day was over I had proof of it. 

During dinner we spoke very little, and after it was over we 
went out to the balcony to sit on a big oak seat which stood 
there. 

It was another soft and soundless night, without stars, very 
dark, and with an empty echoing air, which seemed to say that 
thunder was not far off, for the churning of the nightjar 
vibrated from the glen, and the distant roar of the tide, now 
rising, was like the rumble of drums at a soldier's funeral. 

Just as we sat down the pleasure-steamer we had seen in the 
morning re-crossed our breadth of sea on its way back to Black- 
water; and lit up on deck and in all its port-holes, it looked 
like a floating cafe chantant full of happy people, for they 
were singing in chorus a rugged song which Martin and I had 
known all our lives 

Ramsey town, Ramsey town, smiling by the sea, 
Here's a health to my true love, wheresoe'er she be. 

When the steamer had passed into darkness, Martin said: 

"I don't want to hurt you again, Mary, but before I go 
there's something I want to know. ... If you cannot 
divorce your husband, and if ... if you cannot come to 
me what . ... what is left to us?" 

I tried to tell him there was only one thing left to us, and 
(as much for myself as for him) I did my best to picture the 
spiritual heights and beauties of renunciation. 

" Does that mean that we are to . . . to part ?" he said. 
"You going your way and I going mine . . . never to 
meet again?" 

That cut me to the quick, so I said it was all I could trust 
myself to say that the utmost that was expected of us was 

T 



290 THE WOMAN THOU GAVEST ME 

that we should govern our affections control and conquer 
them. 

"Do you mean that we are to stamp them out altogether?" 
he said. 

That cut me to the quick too, and I felt like a torn bird 
that is struggling in the lime, but I contrived to say that if our 
love was guilty love it was our duty to destroy it. 

"Is that possible?" he said. 

"We must ask God to help us," I answered, and then, while 
his head was down and I was looking out into the darkneSvS, 
I tried to say that though he was suffering now he would soon 
get over this disappointment. 

"Do you wish me to get over it?" he asked. 

This confused me terribly, for in spite of all I was saying I 
knew at the bottom of my heart that in the sense he intended 
I did not and could not wish it. 

"We have known and cared for each other all our lives, 
Mary isn't that so? It seems as if there never was a time 
when we didn 't know and care for each other. Are we to pray 
to God, as you say, that a time may come when we shall feel 
as if we had never known and cared for each other at all?" 

My throat was fluttering I could not answer him. 

"7 can't," he said. "I never shall never as long as I live. 
No prayers will ever help me to forget you. ' ' 

I could not speak. I dared not look at him. After a 
moment he said in a thicker voice : 

"And you . . . will you be able to forget me? By 
praying to God will you be able to wipe me out of your mind ? " 

I felt as if something were strangling me. 

"A woman lives in her heart, doesn't she?" he said. "Love 
is everything to her . . . everything except her religion. 
Will it be possible this renunciation . . . will it be pos- 
sible for you either?" 

I felt as if all the blood in my body were running away 
from me. 

"It will not. You know it will not. You will never be 
able to renounce your love. Neither of us will be able to re- 
nounce it. It isn't possible. It isn't human. . . . Well, 
what then? If we continue to love each other you here and 
I down there we shall be just as guilty in the eyes of the 
Church, shan 't WP * " 

I did not answer him, and after a moment he came closer 
to me on the seat and said almost in a whisper : 



I FALL IN LOVE 291 

"Then think again, Mary. Only give one glance to the 
horrible life that is before you when I am gone. You have 
been married a year . . . only a year . . . and you 
have suffered terribly. But there is worse to come. Your 
husband 's coarse infidelity has been shocking, but there will be 
something more shocking than his infidelity his affection. 
Have you never thought of thatf" 

I started and shuddered, feeling as if somebody must have 
told him the most intimate secret of my life. Coming still 
closer he said: 

"Forgive me, dear. I'm bound to speak plainly now. If 
I didn't I should never forgive myself in the future . . . 
Listen! Your husband will get over his fancy for this 
. . . this woman. He'll throw her off, as he has thrown off 
women of the same kind before. What will happen then? 
He'll remember that you belong to him . . . that he has 
rights in you . . . that you are his wife and he is your 
husband . . . that the infernal law which denies you the 
position of an equal human being gives him a right a legal 
right to compel your obedience. Have you never thought of 
thatf" 

For one moment we looked into each other's eyes; then he 
took hold of my hand and, speaking very rapidly, said : 

' ' That 's the life that is before you when I am gone to live 
with this man whom you loathe . . . year after year, as 
long as life lasts . . . occupying the same house, the same 
room, the same . . ." 

I uttered an involuntary cry and he stopped. 

"Martin," I said, "there is something you don't know." 

And then, I told him it was forced out of me my modesty 
went down in the fierce battle with a higher pain, and I do not 
know whether it was my pride or my shame or my love that 
compelled me to tell him, but I did tell him God knows how 
that I could not run the risk he referred to because I was 
not in that sense my husband 's wife and never had been. 

The light was behind me, and my face was in the darkness ; 
but still I covered it with my hands while I stammered out the 
story of my marriage day and the day after, and of the com- 
pact I had entered into with my husband that only when and if 
I came to love him should he claim my submission as a wife. 

"While I was speaking I knew that Martin 's eyes were fixed 
on me, for I could feel his breath on the back of my hands, but 
before I had finished he leapt up and cried excitedly : 



292 THE WOMAN THOU GAYEST ME 

"And that compact has been kept?" 

"Yes." 

"Then it's all right! Don't be afraid. You shall be free. 
Come in and let me tell you how! Come in, come in!" 

He took me back into the boudoir. I had no power to resist 
him. His face was as pale as death, but his eyes were shining. 
He made me sit down and then sat on the table in front of me. 

"Listen!" he said. "When I bought my ship from the 
Lieutenant we signed a deed, a contract, as a witness before 
all men that he would give me his ship and I would give him 
some money. But if after all he hadn 't given me his ship what 
would our deed have been ? Only so much waste paper. ' ' 

It was the same with my marriage. If it had been an honest 
contract, the marriage service would have been a witness before 
God that we meant to live together as man and wife. But 
I never had, therefore what was the marriage service? Only 
an empty ceremony! 

"That's the plain sense of the matter, isn't it?" he cried. 
"I defy any priest in the world to prove the contrary." 

"Well?" 

"Well, don't you see what it comes to? You are free 
morally free at all events. You can come to me. You must, 
too. I daren't leave you in this house any longer. I shall 
take you to London and fix you up there, and then, when I 
come back from the Antarctic . . ." 

He was glowing with joy, but a cold hand suddenly seized 
me, for I had remembered all the terrors of excommunication 
as Father Dan had described them. 

' ' But Martin, ' ' I said, ' ' would the Church accept that ? ' ' 

"What matter whether it would or wouldn't? Our con- 
sciences would be clear. There would be no sin, and what 
you were saying this morning would not apply." 

' ' But if I left my husband I couldn 't marry you, could I ? ' * 

"Perhaps not." 

"Then the Church would say that I was a sinful woman 
living a sinful life, wouldn 't it ? " 

"But you wouldn't be." 

"All the same the Church would say so, and if it did I 
should be cut out of communion, and if I were eut out of com- 
munion I should be cast out of the Church, and if I were cast 
out of the Church . . . what would become of me then ? ' ' 

"But, my dear, dear girl," said Martin, "don't you see that 
this is not the same thing at all ? It is only a case of a cere- 



I FALL IN LOVE 293 

mony. And why should a mere ceremony even if we cannot 
do away with it darken a woman's life for ever?" 

My heart was yearning for love, but my soul was crying out 
for salvation ; and not being able to answer him for myself, I 
told him what Father Dan had said I was to say. 

"Father Dan is a saint and I love him," he said. "But 
what can he know what can any priest know of a situation 
like this ? The law of man has tied you to this brute, but the 
law of God has given you to me. Why should a marriage 
service stand between us?" 

"But it does," I said. "And we can't alter it. No, no, I 
dare not break the law of the Church. I am a weak, wretched 
girl, but I cannot give up my religion." 

After that Martin did not speak for a moment. Then he 
said: 

' ' You mean that, Mary ? ' ' 

"Yes." 

And then my heart accused me so terribly of the crime of 
resisting him that I took his hand and held his fingers in a 
tight lock while I told him what I had never meant to tell 
how long and how deeply I had loved him, but nevertheless I 
dared not face the thought of living and dying without the 
consolations of the Church. 

"I dare not! I dare not!" I said. "I should be a 
broken-hearted woman if I did, and you don't want that, 
do you?" 

He listened in silence, though the irregular lines in his face 
showed the disordered state of his soul, and when I had fin- 
ished a wild look came into his eyes and he said: 

"I am disappointed in you, Mary. I thought you were 
brave and fearless, and that when I showed you a way out of 
your miserable entanglement you would take it in spite of 
everything. ' ' 

His voice was growing thick again. I could scarcely bear 
to listen to it. 

"Do you suppose I wanted to take up the position I pro- 
posed to you ? Not I. No decent man ever does. But I love 
you so dearly that I was willing to make that sacrifice and 
count it as nothing if only I could rescue you from the misery 
of your abominable marriage." 

Then he broke into a kind of fierce laughter, and said : 

"It seems I wasn't wanted, though. You say in effect 
that my love is sinful and criminal, and that it will imperil 



294 THE WOMAN THOU GAYEST ME 

your soul. So I'm only making mischief here and the sooner 
I get away the better for everybody. ' ' 

He threw off my hand, stepped to the door to the balcony, 
and looking out into the darkness said, between choking 
laughter and sobs: 

"Elian, you are no place for me. I can't bear the sight of 
you any longer. I used to think you were the dearest spot 
on earth, because you were the home of her who would follow 
me to the ends of the earth if I wanted her, but I was wrong. 
She loves me less than a wretched ceremony, and would sacri- 
fice my happiness to a miserable bit of parchment. ' ' 

My heart was clamouring loud. Never had I loved him so 
much as now. I had to struggle with myself not to throw 
myself into his arms. 

"No matter!" he said. "I should be a poor-spirited fool 
to stay where I 'm not wanted. I must get back to my work. 
The sooner the better, too. I thought I should be counting 
the days down there until I could come home again. But 
why should I ? And why should I care what happens to me ? 
It's all as one now." 

He stepped back from the balcony with a resolute expression 
on his gloomy face, and I thought for a moment (half hoping 
and half fearing it) that he was going to lay hold of me and 
tell me I must do what he wished because I belonged to him. 

But he only looked at me for a moment in silence, and 
then burst into a flood of tears, and turned and ran out of 
the house. 

Let who will say his tears were unmanly. To me they were 
the bitter cry of a great heart, and I wanted to follow him 
and say, ' ' Take me. Do what you like with me. I am yours. ' ' 

I did not do so. I sat a long time where he had left me and 
then I went into my room and locked the door. 

I did not cry. Unjust and cruel as his reproaches had been, 
I began to have a strange wild joy in them. I knew that he 
would not have insulted me like that if he had not loved me to 
the very verge of madness itself. 

Hours passed. Price came tapping at my door to ask if 
she should lock up the house meaning the balcony. I an- 
swered "No, go to bed." 

I heard the deadened thud of Martin's footsteps on the lawn 
passing to and fro. Sometimes they paused under my window 
and then I had a feeling, amounting to certainty, that he was 



I FALL IN LOVE 295 

listening to hear if I was sobbing, and that if I had been he 
would have broken down my bedroom door to get to me. 

At length I heard him come up the stone stairway, shut and 
bolt the balcony door, and walk heavily across the corridor 
to his own room. 

The day was then dawning. It was four o'clock. 

SIXTY-EIGHTH CHAPTER 

I AWOKE on Wednesday morning in a kind of spiritual and 
physical fever. Every conflicting emotion which a woman 
can experience in the cruel battle between her religion and her 
love seemed to flood body and soul joy, pain, pride, shame, 
fear, rapture so that I determined (not without cause) to 
make excuse of a headache to stay in bed. 

Although it was the last day of Martin 's visit, and I charged 
myself with the discourtesy of neglecting him, as well as the 
folly of losing the few remaining hours of his company, I 
thought I could not without danger meet him again. 

I was afraid of him, but I was still more afraid of myself. 

Recalling my last sight of his face as he ran out of the 
house, and knowing well the desire of my own heart, I felt 
that if I spent another day in his company it would be 
impossible to say what might happen. 

As a result of this riot of emotions I resolved to remain all 
day in my room, and towards evening to send out a letter 
bidding him good-bye and good-luck. It would be a cold 
end to a long friendship and my heart was almost frozen at 
the thought of it, but it was all I dared do and I saw no help 
for it. 

But how little did I know what was written in the Book of 
Fate for me ! 

First came Price on pretence of bathing my forehead, and 
she bombarded me with accounts of Martin's anxiety. When 
he had heard that I was ill he had turned as white as if 
sixteen ounces of blood had been taken out of him. It nearly 
broke me up to hear that, but Price, who was artful, only 
laughed and said: 

"Men are such funny things, bless them! To think of 
that fine young man, who is big enough to fell an ox and brave 
enough to face a lion, being scared to death because a little 
lady has a headache. ' ' 

All morning she was in and out of my room with similar 



296 THE WOMAN THOU GAVEST ME 

stories, and towards noon she brought me a bunch of roses 
wet with the dew, saying that Tommy the Mate had sent them. 

"Are you sure it was Tommy the Mate?" I asked, where- 
upon the sly thing, who was only waiting to tell the truth, 
though she pretended that I was forcing it out of her, 
admitted that the flowers were from Martin, and that he had 
told her not to say so. 

' ' What 's he doing now ? " I asked. 

"Writing a letter," said Price, "and judging by the times 
he has torn it up and started again and wiped his forehead, 
it must be a tough job, I can tell you. ' ' 

I thought I knew whom the letter was meant for, and before 
luncheon it came up to me. 

It was the first love letter I had ever had from Martin, and 
it melted me like wax over a candle. I have it still, and 
though Martin is such a great man now, I am tempted to copy 
it out just as it was written with all its appearance of irrever- 
ence (none, I am sure, was intended), and even its bad spell- 
ing, for without that it would not be Martin my boy who 
could never learn his lessons. 

"Dear Mary, I am destroyed to here how ill you are, and 
when I think it's all my fault I am ready to kick myself. 

"Don't worry about what I was saying last night. I was 
mad to think what might happen to you while I should be 
down there, but I've been thinking it over since and I've come 
to the conclusion that if their is anything to God He can be 
trusted to look after you without any help from me, so when 
we meet again before I go away we'll never say another word 
on the subject that 's a promice. 

"I can't go until your better though, so I'm just sending 
the jaunting car into town with a telegram to London telling 
them to postpone the expedision on account of illness, and if 
they think it's mine it won't matter because it's something 
worse. 

"But if you are realy a bit better, as your maid says, you 
might come to the window and wave your hand to me, and I 
shall be as happy as a sand-boy. "Tours, 

"Mart." 

To this letter (forgetting my former fears) I returned an 
immediate verbal reply,saying I was getting better rapidly and 
hoped to be up to dinner, so he must not send that telegram 



I FALL IN LOVE 297 

to London on any account, seeing that nobody knew what was 
going to happen and everything was in the hands of God. 

Price took my message with a knowing smile at the corner 
of her mouth, and a few minutes afterwards I heard Martin 
laughing with Tommy the Mate at the other end of the 
lawn. 

I don 't know why I took so much pains with my dress that 
night. I did not expect to see Martin again. I was sending 
him away from me. Yet never before had I dressed myself 
with so much care. I put on the soft white satin gown which 
was made for me in Cairo, a string of pearls over my hair, 
and another (a tight one) about my neck. 

Martin was waiting for me in the boudoir, and to my sur- 
prise he had dressed too, but, except that he wore a soft silk 
shirt, I did not know what he was wearing, or whether he 
looked handsome or not, because it was Martin and that was 
all that mattered to me. 

I am sure my footstep was light as I entered the room, for 
I was shod in white satin slippers, but Martin heard it, and 
I saw his eyes fluttering as he looked at me, and said some- 
thing sweet about a silvery fir tree with its little dark head 
against the sky. 

" It 's to be a truce, isn 't it ? " he asked. 

"Yes, a truce," I answered, which meant that as this was 
to be our last evening together all painful subjects were to 
be put aside. 

Before we sat down to eat he took me out on to the balcony 
to look at the sea, for though there was no rain flashes of sheet 
lightning with low rumbling of distant thunder lit up the 
water for a moment with visions of heavenly beauty, and then 
were devoured by the grim and greedy darkness. 

During dinner we kept faith with each other. In order 
to avoid the one subject that was uppermost in both our 
minds, we played at being children, and pretended it was 
the day we sailed to St. Mary's Rock. 

Thinking back to that time, and all the incidents which he 
had thought so heroic and I so tragic, we dropped into the 
vernacular, and I called him "boy" and he called me "bogh 
millish, ' ' and at every racy word that came up from the for- 
gotten cells of our brains we shrieked with laughter. 

When Martin spoke of his skipper I asked "Is he a stun- 
ner?" When he mentioned one of his scientific experts I 
inquired " Is he any good ? ' ' And after he had told me that ha 



298 THE WOMAN THOU GAVEST ME 

hoped to take possession of some island in the name of the 
English crown, and raise the Union Jack on it, I said : ' ' Do or 
die, we allus does that when we 're out asploring. ' ' 

How we laughed! He laughed because I laughed, and I 
laughed because he was laughing. I had some delicious 
moments of femininity too (such as no woman can resist), 
until it struck me suddenly that in all this make-beliere we 
were making love to each other again. That frightened me 
for a time, but I told myself that everything was safe as long 
as we could carry on the game. 

It was not always easy to do so, though, for some of our 
laughter had tears behind it, and some of our memories had 
an unexpected sting, because things had a meaning for us now 
which they never had before, and we were compelled to realise 
what life had done for us. 

Thus I found my throat throbbing when I recalled the loss 
of our boat, leaving us alone together on that cruel rock with 
the rising tide threatening to submerge us, and I nearly choked 
when I repeated my last despairing cry : " I 'm not a stunner ! 
. . . and you '11 have to give me up . . . and leave me 
here, and save yourself." 

It was like walking over a solfataro with the thin hot earth 
ready to break up under our feet. 

To escape from it I sat down at the piano and began to 
sing. I dared not sing the music I loved best the solemn 
music of the convent so I sang some of the nonsense songs 
I had heard in the streets. At one moment I twisted round 
on the piano stool and said: 

"I'll bet you anything" (I always caught Martin's tone 
in Martin's company), "you can't remember the song I sang 
sitting in the boat with William Rufus on my lap." 

"I'll bet you anything I can," said Martin. 

' ' Oh, no, you can 't, " I said. 

"Have it as you like, bogh, but sing it for all," said 
Martin, and then I sang 

"Oh, Sally's the gel for me, 
Our Sally's the gel for me, 
I'll marry the gel that I love best, 
When I come back from sea." 

But that arrow of memory had been sharpened on Time's 
grindstone and it seemed to pierce through us, so Martin 
proposed that we should try the rollicking chorus which the 



I FALL IN LOVE 299 

xcursionists had sung on the pleasure-steamer the night 
before. 

He did not know a note of music and he had no more voice 
than a corn-crake, but crushing up on to the music-stool by my 
side, he banged away with his left hand while I played with my 
right, and we sang together in a wild delightful discord 

"Ramsey toivn, Ramsey town, smiling by ike sea, 
Here's a health lo my true love, wheresoe'er she be." 

We laughed again when that was over, but I knew I could 
not keep it up much longer, and every now and then I forgot 
that I was in my boudoir and seemed to see that lonesome 
plateau, twelve thousand feet above the icy barrier that guards 
the Pole, and Martin toiling through blizzards over rolling 
waves of snow. 

Towards midnight we went out on to the balcony to look 
at the lightning for the last time. The thunder was shaking 
the cliffs and rolling along them like cannon-balls, and Martin 
said: 

"It sounds like the breaking of the ice down there." 

When we returned to the room he told me he would have 
to be off early in the morning, before I was out of bed, having 
something to do in Blackwater, where "the boys were getting 
up a spree of some sort. ' ' 

In this way he rattled on for some minutes, obviously 
talking himself down and trying to prevent me from thinking. 
But the grim moment came at last, and it was like the empty 
gap of time when you are waiting for the whirring of the 
clock that is to tell the end of the old year and the beginning 
of the new. 

My cuckoo clock struck twelve. Martin looked at me. I 
looked at him. Our eyes fell. He took my hand. It was 
eold and moist. His own was hot and trembling. 

"So this is ... the end," he said. 

"Yes . . . the end," I answered. 

"Well, we've had a jolly evening to finish up with, any- 
way," he said. "I shall always remember it." 

I tried to say he would soon have other evenings to think 
about that would make him forget this one 

' ' Never in this world ! " he answered. 

I tried to wish him good luck, and great success, and a 
happy return to fame and fortune. 



300 THE WOMAN THOU GAYEST ME 

He looked at me with his great liquid eyes and said: 

"Aw, well, that's all as one now." 

I tried to tell him it would always be a joy to me to remem- 
ber that he and I had been such great, great friends. 

He looked at me again, and answered: 

" That 'sail as one also." 

I reproached myself for the pain I was causing him, and 
to keep myself in countenance I began to talk of the beauty 
and nobility of renunciation each sacrificing for the other's 
sake all sinful thoughts and desires. 

"Yes, I'm doing what you wish," he said. "I can't deny 
you anything." 

That cut me deep, so I went on to say that if I had acted 
otherwise I should always have had behind me the memory 
of the vows I had broken, the sacrament I had violated, and 
the faith I had abandoned. 

"All the same we might have been very happy," he said, 
and then my throat became so thick that I could not say any 
more. 

After a few moments he said : 

"It breaks my heart to leave you. But I suppose I must, 
though I don 't know what is going to happen. ' ' 

"All that is in God's hands," I said. 

"Yes," said Martin, "it's up to Him now." 

It made my heart ache to look at his desolate face, so, 
struggling hard with my voice, I tried to tell him he must 
not despair. 

"You are so young," I said. "Surely the future holds 
much happiness for you." 

And then, though I knew that the bare idea of another 
woman taking the love I was turning away would have made 
the world a blank for me, I actually said something about the 
purest joys of love falling to his lot some day. 

"No, by the Lord God," said Martin. "There'll be no 
other woman for me. If I'm not to have you I'll wear the 
willow for you the same as if you were dead/' 

There was a certain pain in that, but there was a thrill of 
secret joy in it too. 

He was still holding my hand. We held each other's hands 
a long time. In spite of my affected resignation I could not 
let his hand go. I felt as if I were a drowning woman and 
his hand were my only safety. Nevertheless I said: 



I PALL IN LOVE 301 

"We must say good-night and good-bye now." 
'And if it is for ever?" 
'Don't say that." 
'But if it is?" 

'Well, then ... for ever." 

' At least give me something to take away with me, ' ' he said. 
'Better not," I answered, but even as I spoke I dropped 
the handkerchief which I had been holding in my other hand 
and he picked it up. 

I knew that my tears, though I was trying to keep them 
back, were trickling down my cheeks. I saw that his face was 
all broken up as it had been the night before. 

There was a moment of silence in which I was conscious of 
nothing but the fierce beating of my pulse, and then he raised 
my hand to his lips, dropped it gently and walked over to 
the door. 

But after he had opened it he turned and looked at me. I 
looked at him, longing, craving, hungering for his love as for 
a flame at which my heart could warm itself. 

Then came a blinding moment. It seemed as if in an 
instant he lost all control of himself, and his love came rushing 
upon him like a mighty surging river. 

Flinging the door back he returned to me with long strides, 
and snatching me up in his great arms, he lifted me off my 
feet, clasped me tightly to him, kissed me passionately on 
the mouth and cried in a quivering, husky voice: 

"You are my wife. I am your real husband. I am not 
leaving you because you are married to this brute, but for 
the sake of your soul. We love each other. We shall continue 
to love each other. No matter where you are, or what they 
do with you, you are mine and always will be." 

My blood was boiling. The world was reeling round me. 
There was a roaring in my brain. All my spiritual impulses 
had gone. I was a woman, and it was the same to me as if 
the primordial man had taken possession of me by sheer force. 
Yet I was not afraid of that. I rejoiced in it. I wanted to 
give myself up to it. 

But the next moment Martin had dropped me, and fled 
from the room, clashing the door behind him. 

I felt as if a part of myself had been torn from my breast 
and had gone out with him. 

The room seemed to become dark. 



SLXT -XLNTJU. CHAPTER 

FOB a TnMKPiit I stood where Martin had left me, throbbing 
through and through like an open wound, telling myself that 
he had gone, that I should never see him again, and that I had 
diitui him away from me. 

Those passionate kisses had deprived me of the power of 
consecutive thought. I could only fed. And the one thing 
I felt above everything else was that the remedy I had pro- 
posed to myself for my unhappy situation renunciation was 
able, because Martin was a part of my own being and 



without him I could not five. 

"Martin! Martin! My love! My love!" cried the voice 
of my heart. 

In fear lest I had spoken the words aloud, and in terror of 
what I might do under the power of them, I hurried into my 
bedroom and locked and bolted the door. 

But the heart knows nothing of locks and bolts, and a 
MMMMiL afterwards my spirit was following Martin to his 
room. I was seeing him as I had seen him last, with his face 
full of despair, and I was accusing myself of the pain I had 
caused iiim 

I had conquered Martin, but I had conquered myself also. 
I had compelled 1 to submit, but his submission had van- 



Even if I had a right to impose renunciation on myself, 
what right had I to impose it upon him, who did not desire it, 
did not think it imiiMiij 1 , was not reconciled to it, and only 
accepted it out of obedience to my wfflf 

He loved me. Xo man ever loved a woman more dearly. 
He deserved to be loved in return. He had done nothing to 
forfeit love. He was bound by no ties. And yet I was driving 
him away from me. What right had I to do so* 

I began to see that I had acted throughout with the most 
abominable yMMmfgfr, Tn lri great love he had said little 
or nothing about himself Bntwhy had /not thought of him? 
In the struggles of my religious eonseienee I li*d been thinking 
of myself alone, but Martin had been siiflVring too, and I 
had never once really thought of that? What right had I to 
make Irim suffer? 

After a while I began to prepare for bed, but it took ma 
to undress, Cor I stopped cvay moment to thinlr 

I thought of the long yean Martin had been waiting for me, 



I FALL IN LOVE 303 

and while I was telling myself thai he had kept pore for my 
sake, my heart was beating so fast that I could hardly bear 
the strain of it. 

It cut me still deeper to think that even as there had been 
no other woman for him in the past so there would be no 
other in the future. Never as long as he lived! I was as sure 
of that as of the breath I breathed, and when I remembered 
what he had said about wearing the willow for me as if I were 
dead I was almost distracted. 

His despairing words kept ringing mercilessly in my ears 
"It's all as one now"; "How happy we might have been." 
I wanted to go to him and tell him that though I was sending 
him away still I loved him, and it was because I loved him 
that I was sending him away. 

I had made one step towards the door before I remembered 
that it was too late to carry out my purpose. The opportunity 
had passed. Martin had gone to his room. He might even be 
in bed by this time. 

But there are spiritual influences which control our bodies 
independently of our wilL I put on my dressing-gown (being 
partly undressed) and went back to the boudoir. I hardly 
knew what impulse impelled me to do so, and neither do I 
know why I went from the boudoir to the balcony unices it 
was in hope of the melancholy joy of standing once more 
where Martin and I had stood together a little while ago. 

I was alone now. The low thunder was still rolling along 
the cliffs, but I hardly heard it The white sheet lightning 
was still pulsing in the sky and rising, as it seemed, out of the 
sea, but I hardly saw it. 

At one moment I caught a glimpse of a solitary fishing boat, 
under its brown lugger sails, heading towards Blaekwater; 
at the next moment my eyes were dazzled as by a flashlight 
from some unseen battleship. 

Leaning over the balcony and gazing into the intermittent 
darkness I pictured to myself the barren desolation of Martin's 
life after he had left me. Loving me so much he might fall 
into some excess,, perhaps some vice, and if that happened what 
would be the measure of my responsibility f 

Losing me he might lose his faith in God. I had read of 
men becoming spiritual castaways after they had lost their 
anchorage in some great love; and I asked myself what should 
I do if Martin became an infideL 

And when I told myself that I could only save Martin's soul 



304 THE WOMAN THOU GAYEST ME 

by sacrificing my own I was overwhelmed by a love so great 
that I thought I could do even that. 

"Martin! Martin! Forgive me, forgive me," I cried. 

I felt so hot that I opened my dressing-gown to cool my bare 
breast. After a while I began to shiver and then fearing I 
might take cold I went back to the boudoir, and sat down. 

I looked at my cuckoo clock. It was half-past twelve. 
Only half an hour since Martin had left, me ! It seemed like 
hours and hours. What of the years and years of my life that 
I had still to spend without him? 

The room was so terribly silent, yet it seemed to be full 
of our dead laughter. The ghost of our happiness seemed to 
haunt it. I was sure I could never live in it again. 

I wondered what Martin would be doing now. Would he be 
in bed and asleep, or sitting up like this, and thinking of me 
as I was thinking of him? 

At one moment I thought I heard his footsteps. I listened, 
but the sound stopped. At another moment, covering my face 
with my hands, I thought I saw him in his room, as plainly 
as if there were no walls dividing us. He was holding out his 
hands to me, and his face had the yearning, loving, despairing 
expression which it had worn when he looked back at me from 
the door. 

At yet another moment I thought I heard him calling me. 

"Mary!" 

I listened again, but again all was still, and when I told 
myself that if in actual fact he had spoken my name it was 
perhaps only to himself (as I was speaking his) my heart 
throbbed up to my throat. 

Once more I heard his voice. 

"Mary!" 

I could bear no more. Martin wanted me. I must go to 
him. Though body and soul were torn asunder I must go. 

Before I knew what I was doing I had opened the door and 
was walking across the corridor in the direction of Martin's 
room. 

The house was dark. Everybody had gone to bed. Light as 
my footsteps were, the landing was creaking under me. I 
knew that the floors of the grim old Castle sometimes made 
noises when nobody walked on them, but none the less I felt 
afraid. 

Half way to Martin's door I stopped. A ghostly hand 



I FALL IN LOVE 305 

seemed to be laid on my shoulder and a ghostly voice seemed 
to say in my ear : 

"Wait! Reflect! If you do what you are thinking of 
doing what will happen? You will become an outcast. The 
whole body of your own sex will turn against you. You will 
be a bad woman." 

I knew what it was. It was my conscience speaking to me 
in the voice of my Church my Church, the mighty, irresis- 
tible power that was separating me from Martin. I was its 
child, born in its bosom, but if I broke its laws it would roll 
over me like a relentless Juggernaut. 

It was not at first that I could understand why the Church 
should set itself up against my Womanhood. My Woman- 
hood was crying out for life and love and liberty. But the 
Church, in its inexorable, relentless voice, was saying, "Thou 
Shalt Not!" 

After a moment of impenetrable darkness, within and 
without, I thought I saw things more plainly. The Church 
was the soul of the world. It stood for purity, which alone 
could hold the human family together. If all women who 
had made unhappy marriages were to do as I was thinking 
of doing (no matter under what temptation) the world would 
fall to wreck and ruin. 

Feeling crushed and ashamed, and oh, so little and weak, 
I groped my way back to the boudoir and closed the door. 

Then a strange thing happened one of those little acci- 
dents of life which seem to be thrown off by the mighty hand 
of Fate. A shaft of light from my bedroom, crossing the end 
of my writing-desk, showed me a copy of a little insular 
newspaper. 

The paper, which must have come by the evening post, had 
probably been opened by Martin, and for that reason only I 
took it up and glanced at it. 

The first thing that caught my eye was a short report 
headed "Charity Performance." 

It ran : 

"The English ladies and gentlemen from Castle Raa who 
are cruising round the island in the liandsome steam 
yacht, the Cleopatra, gave a variety entertainment last night 
in aid of the Catholic Mission at the Palace, Ravenstown. 

"At the end of the performance the Lord Bishop, who was 
present in person and watched every item of the programme 

u 



306 THE WOMAN THOU GAYEST ME 

with obvious enjoyment, proposed a vote of thanks in his 
usual felicitous terms, thanking Lord Raa for this further 
proof of his great liberality of mind in helping a Catholic 
charity, and particularly mentioning the beautiful and ac- 
complished Madame Lier, who had charmed all eyes and won 
all hearts by her serpentine dances, and to whom the Church 
in Elian would always be indebted for the handsome sum 
which had been the result of her disinterested efforts in 
promoting the entertainment. 

"It is understood that the Cleopatra will leave Ravenstown 
Harbour to-morrow morning on her way back to Port Raa." 

That was the end of everything. It came upon me like a 
torrent and swept all my scruples away. 

Such was the purity of the Church threatening me with 
its censures for wishing to follow the purest dictates of my 
heart, yet taking money from a woman like Alma, who was 
bribing it to be blind to her misconduct and to cover her with 
its good- will! 

My husband too his infidelities were flagrant and no- 
torious, yet the Church, through its minister, was flattering 
his vanity and condoning his offences! 

He was coming back to me, too this adulterous husband, 
and when he came the Church would require that I should 
keep "true faith" with him, whatever his conduct, and deny 
myself the pure love that was now awake within me. 

But no, no, no ! Never again ! It would be a living death. 
Accursed be the power that could doom a woman to a living 
death ! 

Perhaps I was no longer sane morally sane and if so 
God and the Church will forgive me. But seeing that neither 
the Church nor the Law could liberate me from this bond 
which I did not make, that both were shielding the evil man 
and tolerating the bad woman, my whole soul rose in revolt. 

I told myself now that to leave my husband and go to 
Martin would be to escape from shame to honour. 

I saw Martin's despairing face again as I had seen it at 
the moment of our parting, and my brain rang with his pas- 
sionate words. "You are my wife. I am your real husband. 
We love each other. We shall continue to love each other. 
No matter where you are, or what they do with you, you 
are mine and always will be." 



I FALL IN LOVE 307 

Something was crying out within me: "Love him! Tell 
him you love him. Now, now! He is going away. To- 
morrow will be too late. Go to him. This will be your true 
marriage. The other was only legalised and sanctified 
prostitution. ' ' 

I leapt up, and tearing the door open, I walked with strong 
steps across the corridor towards Martin's room. 

My hair was down, my arms were bare in the ample sleeves 
of my dressing-gown, and my breast was as open as it had 
been on the balcony, but I thought nothing of all that. 

I did not knock at Martin's door. I took hold of the handle 
as one who had a right. It turned of itself and the door 
opened. 

My mind was in a whirl, black rings were circling round 
my eyes, but I heard my trembling, quivering, throbbing 
voice, as if it had been the voice of somebody else, saying: 

"Martin, I am coming in." 

Then my heart which had been beating violently seemed to 
stop. My limbs gave way. I was about to fall. 

At the next moment strong arms were around me. I had 
no fear. But there was a roaring in my brain such as the 
ice makes when it is breaking up. 

Oh, you good women, who are happy in the love that 
guards you, shields you, shelters you, wraps you round 
and keeps you pure and true, tread lightly over the pros- 
trate soul of your sister in her hour of trial and fierce 
temptation. 

And you blessed and holy saints who kneel before the 
Mother of all Mothers, take the transgression of her guilty 
child to Him who long ago in the house of the self- 
righteous Pharisee said to the woman who was a sinner 
and yet loved much the woman who had washed His 
feet with her tears and dried them with the hair of her 
head "Thy sins are forgiven thee." 



FIFTH PART 
I BECOME A MOTHER 

SEVENTIETH CHAPTER 

NEXT morning, at half-past eight, my Martin left me. 

"We were standing together in the boudoir between the 
table and the fire, which was burning briskly, for the sultry 
weather had gone in the night, and the autumn air was keen, 
though the early sun was shining. 

At the last moment he was unwilling to go, and it was as 
much as I could do to persuade him. Perhaps it is one of 
the mysteries which God alone can read that our positions 
seemed to have been reversed since the day before. 

He was confused, agitated, and full of self reproaches, 
while I felt no fear and no remorse, but only an indescribable 
joy, as if a new and gracious life had suddenly dawned on me. 

"I don't feel that I can leave England now," he said. 

"You can and you must," I answered, and then I spoke of 
his expedition as a great work which it was impossible to 
put off. 

"Somebody else must do it, then," he said. 

"Nobody else can, or shall," I replied. 

* ' But our lives are for ever joined together now, and every- 
thing else must go by the board. ' ' 

"Nothing shall go by the board for my sake, Martin. I 
refuse and forbid it." 

Everything had been arranged, everything settled, great 
sums of money had been subscribed out of faith in him, and 
him only, and a large company, was ready and waiting to sail 
under his command. He was the Man of Destiny, therefore 
nothing nothing whatever must keep him back. 

"Then if I must go, you must go too," he said. "I mean 
you must go with me to London and wait there until I re- 
turn." 

' ' That is impossible, ' ' I answered. 

The eyes of the world were on him now, and the heart of 
the world was with him. If I did what he desired it would 
reflect dishonour on his name, and he should not suffer for 
my sake under any circumstances. 

308 



I BECOME A MOTHER 309 

"But think what may happen to you while I am away," 
he said. 

"Nothing will happen while you are away, Martin." 

' ' But how can you be so sure of the future when God alone 
knows what it is to be?" 

"Then God will provide for it," I said, and with that last 
answer he had to be satisfied. 

"You must take a letter from me at all events," said 
Martin, and sitting at my desk he began to write one. 

It is amazing to me now when I come to think of it that I 
could have been so confident of myself and so indifferent to 
consequences. But I was thinking of one thing only that 
Martin must go on his great errand, finish his great work 
and win his great reward, without making any sacrifice 
for me. 

After a few minutes he rose from the desk and handed me 
his letter. 

"Here it is," he said. "If the worst comes to the worst 
you may find it of some use some day." 

I took it and doubled it and continued to hold it in my hand. 

"Aren't you going to look at it!" he said. 

"No." 

"Not even to see whom it is written to?" 

' ' That is unnecessary. ' ' 

I thought I knew it was written to my husband or my 
father, and it did not matter to me which, for I had de- 
termined not to use it. 

"It is open won't you see what it says?" 

"That is unnecessary also." 

I thought I knew that Martin had tried to take everything 
upon himself, and I was resolved that he should not do so. 

He looked at me with that worshipful expression which, 
seen in the eyes of the man who loves her, makes a woman 
proud to be alive. 

"I feel as if I want to kiss the hem of your dress, Mary," 
he said, and after that there was a moment of heavenly 
silence. 

It was now half-past eight the hour when the motor-car 
had been ordered round to take him to the town and though 
I felt as if I could shed drops of my blood to keep back the 
finger of my cuckoo clock I pointed it out and said it was 
time for him to go. 



310 THE WOMAN THOU GAVEST ME 

I think our parting was the most beautiful moment of all 
my life. 

We were standing a little apart, for though I wanted to 
throw my arms about his neck at that last instant I would not 
allow myself to do so, because I knew that that would make 
it the harder for him to go. 

I could see, too, that he was trying not to make it harder 
for me, so we stood in silence for a moment while my bosom 
heaved and his breath came quick. 

Then he took my right hand in both of his hands and said : 

"There is a bond between us now which can never be 
broken. ' ' 

"Never," I answered. 

"Whatever happens to either of us we belong to each other 
for ever." 

"For ever and ever," I replied. 

I felt his hands tighten at that, and after another moment 
of silence, he said: 

'I may be a long time away, Mary." 

'I can wait." 

'Down there a man has to meet many dangers." 

'You will come back. Providence will take care of you." 

'I think it will. I feel I shall. But if I don't . . ." 

I knew what he was trying to say. A shadow seemed to 
pass between us. My throat grew thick, and for a moment 
I could not speak. But then I heard myself say: 

"Love is stronger than death; many waters cannot quench 
it." 

His hands quivered, his whole body trembled, and I 
thought he was going to clasp me to his breast as before, but 
he only drew down my forehead with his hot hand and 
kissed it 

That was all, but a blinding mist seemed to pass before my 
eyes, and when it cleared the door of the room was open and 
my Martin was gone. 

I stood where he had left me and listened. 

I heard his strong step on the stone flags of the hall he 
was going out at the porch. 

I heard the metallic clashing of the door of the automobile 
he was already in the car. 

I heard the throb of the motor and ruckling of the gravel 
of the path he was moving away. 



I BECOME A MOTHER 311 

I heard the dying down of the engine and the soft roll of 
the rubber wheels I was alone. 

For some moments after that the world seemed empty and 
void. But the feeling passed, and when I recovered my 
strength I found Martin's letter in my moist left hand. 

Then I knelt before the fire, and putting the letter into the 
flames I burnt it. 

SEVENTY-FIRST CHAPTER 

WITHIN two hours of Martin's departure I had regained com- 
plete possession of myself and was feeling more happy than 
I had ever felt before. 

The tormenting compunctions of the past months were 
gone. It was just as if I had obeyed some higher law of my 
being and had become a freer and purer woman. 

My heart leapt within me and to give free rein to the riot 
of my joy I put on my hat and cloak to go into the glen. 

Crossing the garden I came upon Tommy the Mate, who 
told me there had been a terrific thunderstorm during the 
night, with torrential rain, which had torn up all the foreign 
plants in his flower-beds. 

"It will do good, though," said the old man. "Clane out 
some of their dirty ould drains, I'm thinkin'." 

Then he spoke of Martin, whom he had seen off, saying he 
would surely come back. 

" 'Deed he will though. A boy like yander wasn't born to 
lave his bark in the ice and snow. . . . Not if his anchor's 
at home, anyway" with a "glime" in my direction. 

How the glen sang to me that morning! The great cathe- 
dral of nature seemed to ring with music the rustling of the 
leaves overhead, the ticking of the insects underfoot, the 
bleating of the sheep, the lowing of the cattle, the light chant- 
ing of the stream, the deep organ-song of the sea, and then 
the swelling and soaring Gloria in my own bosom, which shot 
up out of my heart like a lark out of the grass in the 
morning. 

I wanted to run, I wanted to shout, and when I came to the 
paths where Martin and I had walked together I wanted 
silly aa it sounds to say so to go down on my knees and kiss 
the very turf which his feet had trod. 

I took lunch in the boudoir as before, but I did not feel as 
if I were alone, for I had only to close my eyes and Martin, 



312 THE WOMAN THOU GAYEST ME 

from the other side of the table, seemed to be looking across 
at me. And neither did I feel that the room was full of dead 
laughter, for our living voices seemed to be ringing in it still. 

After tea I read again my only love-letter, revelling in the 
dear delightful errors in spelling which made it Martin's and 
nobody else's, and then I observed for the first time what 
was said about "the boys of Blackwater," and their intention 
of "getting up a spree." 

This suggested that perhaps Martin had not yet left the 
island but was remaining for the evening steamer, in order to 
be present at some sort of celebrations to be given in his 
honour. 

So at seven o'clock it was dark by that time I was down 
at the Quay, sitting in our covered automobile, which had 
been drawn up in a sheltered and hidden part of the pier, 
almost opposite the outgoing steamer. 

Shall I ever forget the scene that followed? 

First, came a band of music playing one of our native 
songs, which was about a lamb that had been lost in the 
snow, and how the Big Man of the Farm went out in search 
of it, and found it and brought it home in his arms. 

Then came a double row of young men carrying flags and 
banners fine, clean-limbed lads such as make a woman's 
heart leap to look at them. 

Then came Martin in a jaunting car with a cheering crowd 
alongside of him, trying to look cheerful but finding it fear- 
fully hard to do so. 

And then and this touched me most of all a double line 
of girls in knitted woollen caps (such as men wear in frozen 
regions) over their heads and down the sides of their comely 
faces. 

I was crying like a child at the sight of it all, but none the 
less I was supremely happy. 

When the procession reached the gangway Martin dis- 
appeared into the steamer, and then the bandsmen ranged 
themselves in front of it, and struck up another song: 

"Come back to Erin, mavourneen, mavourneen, 
Come back, aroon, to the land of your birth." 

In another moment every voice in the crowd seemed to 
take up the refrain. 

That brought Martin on to the captain's bridge, where he 
stood bareheaded, struggling to smile. 



I BECOME A MOTHER 313 

By tills time the last of the ship's bells had rung, the 
funnels were belching, and the captain's voice was calling on 
the piermen to clear away. 

At last the hawsers were thrown off and the steamer started, 
but, with Martin still standing bareheaded on the bridge, 
the people rushed to the end of the pier to see the last of him. 

There they sang again, louder than ever, the girls' clear 
voices above all the rest, as the ship sailed out into the dark 
sea. 

"Come back to Erin, mavourneen, mavourneen, 
Come back, aroon, to the land of your birth." 

As well as I could, for the mist in my eyes was blinding 
me, I watched the steamer until she slid behind the headland 
of the bay, round the revolving light that stands on the point 
of it stretching my neck through the window of the car, 
while the fresh wind from the sea smote my hot face and the 
salt air licked my parched lips. And then I fell back in my 
seat and cried for sheer joy of the love that was shown to 
Martin. 

The crowd was returning down the pier by this time, like a 
black river running in the darkness and rumbling over rugged 
stones, and I heard their voices as they passed the ear. 

One voice a female voice said: 

"Well, what do you think of our Martin Conrad!" 

And then another voice a male voice answered: 

"By God he's a Man!" 

Within a few minutes the pier was deserted, and the 
chauffeur was saying: 

"Home, my lady?" 

"Home," I answered. 

Seeing Martin off had been too much like watching the life- 
boat on a dark and stormy night, when the lights dip behind 
a monstrous wave and for some breathless moments you fear 
they will never rise. 

But as we drove up the head I caught the lights of the 
steamer again now far out at sea, and well I knew that as 
surely as my Martin was there he was thinking of me and 
looking back towards the house in which he had left me be- 
hind him. 

When we reached the Castle I found to my surprise that 
every window was ablaze. 

The thrum of the automobile brought Price into the hall. 



314 THE WOMAN THOU GAYEST ME 

She told me that the yachting party had come back, and 
were now in their bedrooms dressing for dinner. 

As I went upstairs to my own apartments I heard trills of 
laughter from behind several of the closed doors, mingled 
with the muffled humming of various music-hall ditties. 

And then suddenly a new spirit seemed to take possession 
of me, and I knew that I had become another woman. 



My darling was right. For a long hour after leaving Black- 
water I continued to stand on the captain's bridge, looking 
back at the lighted windows of the house above Port Raa, 
and asking myself the question which for sixteen months 
thereafter was to haunt me day and night Why had I left 
her behind me? 

In spite of all her importunities, all her sweet unselfish 
thought of my own aims and interests, all her confidence in 
herself, all her brave determination to share responsibility 
for whatever the future might have in store for us Why had 
I left her behind me? 

The woman God gave me was mine why had I left her 
in the house of a man who, notwithstanding his infidelities 
and brutalities, had a right in the eyes of the law, the church, 
and the world to call her his wife and to treat her accordingly ? 

Let me make no pretence of a penitence I did not feel. 
Never for one moment did I reproach myself for what had 
happened. Never for the shadow of a moment did I re- 
proach her. She had given herself to me of her queenly right 
and sovereign grace as every good woman in the world must 
give herself to the man she loves if their union is to be pure 
and true. 

But why did I not see then, as I see now, that it is the law 
of Nature the cruel and at the same time the glorious law 
of Nature that the woman shall bear the burden, the woman 
shall pay the price? 

It is over now, and though many a time since my sweet 
girl has said out of her stainless heart that everything has 
worked out for the best, and suffering is God's salt for keep- 
ing our souls alive, when I think of what she went through 
..or me, while I was out of all reach and sight, I know I shall 
never forgive myself for leaving her behind never, never, 
never. M. 0. 

[END OP MARTIN CONRAD'S MEMORANDUM] 



I BECOME A MOTHER 315 



SEVENTY-SECOND CHAPTER 

As this will be the last time I shall have to speak of my hus- 
band's guests, I wish to repeat that I am trying to describe 
them without malice exactly as they were selfish, cruel, 
ill-mannered, and insincere. 

The dinner-bell rang while I was dressing, and on going 
downstairs a few minutes afterwards I found that there had 
been no attempt to wait for me. 

Already the whole party were assembled at the table, my 
husband being at the foot of it, and Alma (incredible as it 
may seem) in the place of the hostess at the head. 

This, in my altered mood, was more than I could bear, so, 
while the company made some attempt to welcome me with 
rather crude salutations, and old Mrs. Lier cried, "Come 
along here, my pore dear, and tell me how you've gotten on 
while we've been away" (indicating an empty seat by her 
side), I walked boldly up to Alma, put my hand on the back 
of her chair and said, "If you please." 

Alma looked surprised. But after a moment she carried 
off the difficult situation by taking the seat which had been 
reserved for me beside her mother, by congratulating me on 
my improved appearance and herself on relief from the 
necessity of filling my place and discharging my responsible 
duties. 

My husband, with the rest of the company, had looked up 
at the awkward incident, and I thought I saw by his curious 
grimace that he supposed my father (of whom he was always 
in fear) had told me to assert myself. But Alma, with surer 
instinct, was clearly thinking of Martin, and almost imme- 
diately she began to speak of him. 

"So your great friend has just gone, dearest. The servants 
are crazy about him. We've missed him again, you see. Too 
bad ! I hope you gave him our regrets and excuses did you ? ' ' 

The evil one must have taken hold of me by this time, for 
I said: 

"I certainly did not, Alma." 

"Why not, my love?" 

"Because we have a saying in our island that it's only the 
ass that eats the cushag" a bitter weed that grows in barren 
places. 

Alma joined in the general laughter which followed this 



316 THE WOMAN THOU GAVEST ME 

rather intemperate reply, and then led off the conversation 
on the incidents of the cruise. 

I gathered that, encouraged by her success in capturing the 
Bishop by her entertainment, she had set herself to capture 
the "aristocracy" of our island by inviting them to a dance 
on the yacht, while it lay at anchor off Holmtown, and the 
humour of the moment was to play battledore and shuttle- 
cock with the grotesque efforts of our great people (the same 
that had figured at my wedding) to grovel before my hus- 
band and his guests. 

' ' I say, Jimmy, ' ' cried. Mr. Vivian in his shrill treble, ' ' do 
you remember the old gal in the gauze who etc. . . . ' 

"But do you remember," cried Mr. Eastcliff, "the High 
Bailiff or Bum Bailiff with the bottle-nose who etc. . . . ?" 

"Killing, wasn't it, Vivian?" said one of the ladies. 

"Perfectly killing," said everybody. 

This shocking exhibition of bad manners had not gone 
on very long before I became aware that it was being impro- 
vised for my benefit. 

After Alma had admitted that the Bishop was a "great 
flirt" of hers, and Mr. Vivian, amid shouts of laughter, had 
christened him her "crush," she turned to me and said, with 
her smiling face slightly drawn down on one side : 

"Mary, my love, you will certainly agree that your is- 
landers who do not eat cushags, poor dears, are the funniest 
people alive as guests." 

"Not funnier," I answered, "than the people who laugh 
at them as hosts. ' ' 

It was not easy to laugh at that, so to cover Alma's con- 
fusion the men turned the talk to their usual topic, horses 
and dogs, and I heard a great deal about "laying on the 
hounds," which culminated in a rather vulgar story of how 
a beater who "wasn't nippy on his pins" had been "pep- 
pered from behind," whereupon he had "bellowed like a 
bull ' ' until ' ' soothed down by a sov. ' ' 

I cannot say how long the talk would have continued in 
this manner if old Mrs. Lier, addressing herself to me, had 
not struck a serious subject. 

It was about Alma's dog, which was dead. The poor 
wheezy spaniel had died in the course of the cruise, though 
what the cause of its death was nobody knew, unless it had 
been fretting for its mistress during the period of quarantine 



I BECOME A MOTHER 317 

which the absurd regulations of government had required 
on our return from abroad. 

The dog having died at sea, I presumed it had been buried 
there, but no, that seemed to shock the company as an un- 
feeling supposition. The ship's carpenter had made a coffin 
for it a beautiful one of mahogany with a plate-glass inset 
at the head, and a gilt-lettered inscription below, giving the 
dog's name, Pine, and its age, three. 

In this condition it had been brought ashore, and was 
now lying in a kind of state in Alma's dressing-room. But 
to-morrow it was to be buried in the grounds, probably in the 
glen, to which the company, all dressed in black, were to fol- 
low in procession as at a human funeral. 

I was choking with anger and horror at the recital of these 
incredible arrangements, and at the close of it I said in a 
clear, emphatic voice: 

"I must ask you to be good enough not to do that, please." 

"Why not, my dear?" said Alma. 

' ' Because I do not wish and cannot permit it, " I answered. 

There was an awkward pause after this unexpected pro- 
nouncement, and when the conversation was resumed my 
quick ears (which have not always added to my happiness) 
caught the half -smothered words: 

"Getting a bit sidey, isn't she?" 

Nevertheless, when I rose to leave the dining-room, Alma 
wound her arm round my waist, called me her "dear little 
nun," and carried me off to the hall. 

There we sat about the big open fire, and after a while 
the talk became as free as it often is among fashionable 
ladies of a certain class. 

Mr. Eastcliff's Camilla told a slightly indelicate anecdote 
of a "dresser" she had had at the theatre, and then another 
young woman (the same who "adored the men who went to 
the deuce for a woman") repeated the terms of an advertise- 
ment she had seen in a Church newspaper: "A parlour- 
maid wants a situation in a family where a footman is kept." 

The laughter which followed this story was loud enough, 
but it was redoubled when Alma's mother, from the depths 
of an arm-chair, said, with her usual solemnity, that she 
"didn't see nothing to laugh at" hi that, and "the pore 
girl hadn't no such thought as they had." 

Again I was choking with indignation, and in order to 
assert myself once for all I said : 



318 THE WOMAN THOU GAVEST ME 

"Ladies, I will ask you to discontinue this kind of con- 
versation. I don't like it." 

At last the climax came. 

About ten days after Martin left me I received a telegram, 
which had been put ashore at Southampton, saying, "Good- 
bye! God bless you!" and next day there came a newspaper 
containing an account of his last night at Tilbury. 

He had given a dinner to a number of his friends, including 
his old commander and his wife, several other explorers who 
happened to be in London, a Cabinet Minister, and the 
proprietor of the journal which had promoted his expedition. 

They had dined in the saloon of the "Scotia" (how vividly 
I remembered it!), finishing up the evening with a dance on 
deck in the moonlight ; and when the time came to break up, 
Martin had made one of his sentimental little speechas (all 
heart and not too much grammar), in which he said that in 
starting out for another siege of the South Pole he "couldn't 
help thinking, with a bit of a pain under the third button 
of his double-breasted waistcoat, of the dear ones they were 
leaving behind, and of the unknown regions whither they 
were tending where dancing would be forgotten." 

I need not say how this moved me, being where I was, in 
that uncongenial company; but by some mischance I left 
the paper which contained it on the table in the drawing-room, 
and on going downstairs after breakfast next morning I 
found Alma stretched out in a rocking-chair before the fire in 
the hall, smoking a cigarette and reading the report aloud in a 
mock heroic tone to a number of the men, including my hus- 
band, whose fat body (he was growing corpulent) was 
shaking with laughter. 

It was as much as I could do to control an impulse to jump 
down and flare out at them, but, being lightly shod, I was 
standing quietly in their midst before they were aware of my 
presence. 

"Ah," said Alma, with the sweetest and most insincere 
of her smiles, "we were just enjoying the beautiful account 
of your friend's last night in England." 

"So I see," I said, and, boiling with anger underneath, I 
quietly took the paper out of her hand between the tips of 
my thumb and first finger (as if the contamination of her 
touch had made it unclean) and carried it to the fire and 
burnt it. 



I BECOME A MOTHER 319 

This semed to be the end of all things. The tall Mr. 
Eastcliff went over to the open door and said: 

"Deuced fine day for a motor drive, isn't it?" 

That gentleman had hitherto shown no alacrity in estab- 
lishing the truth of Alma 's excuse for the cruise on the ground 
of his visit to "his friend who had taken a shoot in Skye;" 
but now he found himself too deeply interested in the Inver- 
ness Meeting to remain longer, while the rest of the party 
bcame so absorbed in the Perth and Ayr races, salmon- 
fishing on the Tay, and stag-shooting in the deer-forests of 
Invercauld, that within a week thereafter I had said good- 
bye to all of them. 

All save Alma. 

I was returning from the hall after the departure of a 
group of my guests when Alma followed me to my room and 
said: 

"My dear, sweet girl, I want you to do me the greatest 
kindness." 

She had to take her mother to New York shortly; but as 
"that dear old dunce" was the worst of all possible sailors, 
it would be necessary to wait for the largest of all possible 
steamers, and as the largest steamers sailed from Liverpool, 
and Elian was so near to that port, perhaps I would not 
mind . . . just for a week or two longer. . . . 

What could I say? What I did say was what I had said 
before, with equal weakness and indiscretion, but less than 
equal danger. A word, half a word, and almost before it was 
spoken, Alma's arms were about my neck and she was calling 
me her "dearest, sweetest, kindest friend in the world." 

My maid Price was present at this interview, and hardly 
had Alma left the boudoir when she was twitching at my 
arm and whispering in my ear: 

"My lady, my lady, don't you see what the woman wants? 
She's watching you." 

SEVENTY-THIRD CHAPTER 

MY husband was the next to go. 

He made excuse of his Parliamentary duties. He might be 
three or four weeks away, but meantime Alma would be with 
me, and in any case I was not the sort of person to feel 
lonely. 

Never having heard before of any devotion to Irs duty as 



320 THE WOMAN THOU GAVEST ME 

a peer, I asked if that was all that was taking him to London. 

"Perhaps not all," he answered, and then, with a twang 
of voice and a twitch of feature, he said: 

"I'm getting sick of this God-forsaken place, and then . . . 
to tell you the truth, your own behaviour is beginning to raw 
me." 

With my husband's departure my triumphal course seemed 
to come to a close. Left alone with Alma, I became as weak 
and irresolute as before and began to brood upon Price's 
warning. 

My maid had found a fierce delight in my efforts to assert 
myself as mistress in my husband's house, but now (taking 
her former advantage) she was for ever harping upon my 
foolishness in allowing Alma to remain in it. 

"She's deceiving you, my lady," said Price. '"Her waiting 
for a steamer indeed! Not a bit of her. If your ladyship 
will not fly out at me again and pack me off bag and baggage, 
111 tell you what's she's waiting for." 

"What?" 

"She's waiting for . . . she thinks . . . she fancies . . . 
well, to tell you the honest truth, my lady, the bad-minded 
thing suspects that something is going to happen to your 
ladyship, and she's just waiting for the chance of telling his 
lordship. ' ' 

I began to feel ill. A dim, vague, uneasy presentiment of 
coming trouble took frequent possession of my mind. 

I tried to suppress it. I struggled to strangle it as an ugly 
monster created by the nervous strain I had been going 
through, and for a time I succeeded in doing so. I had told 
Martin that nothing would happen dnring his absence, and I 
compelled myself to believe that nothing would or could. 

Weeks passed; the weather changed; the golden hue of 
autumn gave place to a chilly greyness; the sky became sad 
with winterly clouds; the land became soggy with frequent 
rains ; the trees showed their bare black boughs ; the withered 
leaves drifted along the roads before blustering winds that 
came up from the sea ; the evenings grew long and the morn- 
ings dreary; but still Alma, with her mother, remained at 
Castle Raa. 

I began to be afraid of her. Something of the half- 
hypnotic spell which she had exercised over me when I was a 
child asserted itself again, but now it seemed to me to be 
always evil and sometimes almost demoniacal. 



I BECOME A MOTHER 321 

I had a feeling that she was watching me day and night. 
Occasionally, when she thought I was looking down, I caught 
the vivid gaze of her coal-black eyes looking across at me 
through her long sable-coloured eyelashes. 

Her conversation was as sweet and suave as ever, but I 
found myself creeping away from her and even shrinking 
from her touch. 

More than once I remembered what Martin in his blunt 
way had said of her: "I hate that woman; she's like a 
snake; I want to put my foot on it." 

The feeling that I was alone in this great gaunt house with 
a woman who was waiting and watching to do me a mischief, 
that she might step into my shoes, was preying upon my 
health and spirits. 

Sometimes I had sensations of faintness and exhaustion for 
which I could not account. Looking into my glass in the 
morning, I saw that my nose was becoming pinched, my 
cheeks thin, and my whole face not merely pale, but grey. 

Alma saw these changes in my appearance, and in the over- 
sweet tones of her succulent voice she constantly offered me 
her sympathy. I always declined it, protesting that I was 
perfectly well, but none the less I shrank within myself and 
became more and more unhappy. 

So fierce a strain could not last very long, and the climax 
came about three weeks after my husband had left for London. 

I was rising from breakfast with Alma and her mother 
when I was suddenly seized with giddiness, and, after stag- 
gering for a moment, I fainted right away. 

On recovering consciousness I found myself stretched out 
on the floor with Alma and her mother leaning over me. 

Never to the last hour of my life shall I forget the look in 
Alma 's eyes as I opened my own. With her upper lip sucked 
in and her lower one slightly set forward she was giving her 
mother a quick side-glance of evil triumph. 

I was overwhelmed with confusion. I thought I might 
have been speaking as I was coming to, mentioning a name 
perhaps, out of that dim and sacred chamber of the unconscioug 
soul into which God alone should see. I noticed, too, that 
my bodice had been unhooked at the back so as to leave it 
loose over my bosom. 

As soon as Alma saw that my eyes were open, glie put her 
arm under my head and began to pour out a flood of honeyed 
words into my ears. 

x 



322 THE WOMAN THOU GAYEST ME 

"My dear, sweet darling," she said, "you scared us to 
death. We must send for a doctor immediately your own 
doctor, you know." 

I tried to say there was no necessity, but she would not 
listen. 

"Such a seizure may be of no consequence, my love. I 
trust it isn't. But on the other hand, it may be a serious 
matter, and it is my duty, dearest, my duty to your husband, 
to discover the cause of it. ' ' 

I knew quite well what Alma was thinking of, yet I could 
not say more without strengthening her suspicions, so I asked 
for Price, who helped me up to my room, where I sat on the 
edge of the bed while she gave me brandy and other restora- 
tives. 

That was the beginning of the end. I needed no doctor to 
say what had befallen me. It was something more stupendous 
for me than the removal of mountains or the stopping of the 
everlasting coming and going of the sea. 

The greatest of the mysteries of womanhood, the most 
sacred, the most divine, the mighty mystery of a new life 
had come to me as it comes to other women. Yet how had 
it come? Like a lowering thunderstorm.. 

That golden hour of her sex, which ought to be the sweetest 
and most joyful in a woman's life the hour when she goes 
with a proud and swelling heart to the one she loves, the one 
who loves her, and with her arms about his neck and her 
face hidden in his breast whispers her great new secret, and he 
clasps her more fondly than ever to his heart, because another 
and closer union has bound them together that golden hour 
had come to me, and there was none to share it. 

God! God! How proudly I had been holding up 
my head! How I had been trampling on the conventions of 
morality, the canons of law, and even the sacraments of 
religion, thinking Nature, which had made our hearts what 
they are, did not mean a woman to be ashamed of her purest 
instincts ! 

And now Nature herself had risen up to condemn me, 
and before long the whole world would be joining in her 
cry. 

If Martin had been there at that moment I do not think I 
should have cared what people might think or say of a woman 
in my condition. But he was separated from me by this time 



I BECOME A MOTHER 323 

by thousands of miles of sea, and was going deeper and deeper 
even' day into the dark Antarctic night. 

How weak I felt, how little, how helpless! Never for a 
moment did I blame Martin. But I was alone with my respon- 
sibility, I was still living in my husband's house, and worst 
of all another woman knew my secret. 

SEVENTY-FOURTH CHAPTER 

EAKLY next day Doctor Conrad came to see me. I thought it 
significant that he came in my father's big motor-car a car 
of great speed and power. 

I was in my dressing-gown before the fire in the boudoir, 
and at the first glance of his cheerful face under his iron-grey 
head I knew what Alma had said in the letter which had 
summoned him. 

In his soft voice he asked me a few questions, and though 
I could have wished to conceal the truth I dared not. I noticed 
that his face brightened at each of my replies, and at the end 
of them he said: 

"There is nothing to be alarmed at. We shall be better 
than ever by-and-by." 

Then in his sweet and delicate way (as if he were saying 
something that would be very grateful) he told me what I 
knew already, and I listened with my head down and my 
face towards the fire. 

He must have been disappointed at the sad way I received 
his news, for he proceeded to talk of my general health, saying 
the great thing in such a case as mine was to be cheerful, to 
keep a good heart, and to look hopefully to the future. 

"You must have pleasant surroundings and the society of 
agreeable people old friends, old schoolfellows, familiar and 
happy faces." 

I said "Yes" and "Yes," knowing only too well how 
impossible it all was; and then his talk turned on general 
topics my father, whose condition made his face very grave, 
and then his wife, Christian Ann, whose name caused his 
gentle old eyes to gleam with sunshine. 

She had charged him with a message to me. 

"Tell her," she had said, "I shall never forget what she 
did for me in the autumn, and whiles and whiles I'm thanking 
God for her." 

That cut me to the quick, but I was nearly torn to pieces 
by what came next. 



324 THE WOMAN THOU GAVEST ME 

"Christian Ann told me to say too that Sunny Lodge is 
longing for you. 'She's a great lady now,' said she, 'but 
maybe great ladies have their troubles same as ourselves, 
poor things, and if she ever wants to rest her sweet head 
in a poor woman's bed, Mary O'Neill's little room is always 
waiting for her. ' ' ' 

' ' God bless her ! " I said it was all I could say and then, 
to my great relief, he talked on other subjects. 

The one thing I was afraid of was that he might speak of 
Martin. Heaven alone, which looks into the deep places of 
a woman's heart in her hour of sorest trial, knows why I was 
in such dread that he might do so, but sure I am that if he 
had mentioned Martin at that moment I should have screamed. 

When he rose to go he repeated his warnings. 

"You'll remember what I said about being bright and 
cheerful?" 

"I'll try." 

"And keeping happy and agreeable faces about you?" 

"Ye-s." 

Hardly had he left the room when Alma came sweeping into 
it, full of her warmest and insineerest congratulations. 

' ' There ! ' ' she cried, with all the bitter honey of her tongue. 
' ' Wasn 't I right in sending for the doctor ? Such news, too ! 
Oh, happy, happy you! But I must not keep you now, 
dearest. You'll be just crazy to write to your husband and 
tell him all about it." 

Alma's mother was the next to visit me. The comfortable 
old soul, redolent of perfume and glittering with diamonds, 
began by congratulating herself on her perspicacity. 

"I knew it," she said. "When I saw as how you were so 
and so, I said to Alma as I was sure you were that way. 
'Impossible,' said Ahna, but it's us married women to know, 
isn't it?" 

After that, and some homely counsel out of her own expe- 
rience to take my breakfast in bed in future, avoiding tea, 
&c., she told me how fortunate I was to have Ahna in the 
house at such a moment. 

"The doctor says you're to be kept bright and cheerful, 
and she's such a happy heart, is Ahna. So crazy about you 
too! You wouldn't believe it, but she's actually talking of 
staying with you until the December sailing, at all events." 

The prospect of having Alma two months longer, to probe 



I BECOME A MOTHER 325 

my secret soul as with a red-hot iron, seemed enough to 
destroy me, but my martyrdom had only begun. 

Next day, Aunt Bridget came, and the bright glitter of the 
usually cold grey eyes behind her gold-rimmed spectacles 
told me at a glance that her visit was not an unselfish one. 

"There now," she said, "you've got to thank me for this. 
Didn't I give you good advice when I told you to be a little 
blind ? It 's the only way with husbands. When Conrad came 
home with the news I said, 'Betsy, I must get away to the 
poor girl straight.' To be sure I had enough on my hands 
already, but I couldn 't leave you to strangers, could I ? " 

Hearing no response to this question, Aunt Bridget went 
on to say that what was coming would be a bond between me 
and my husband. 

' ' It always is. It was in my case, anyway. The old colonel 
didn't behave very well after our marriage, and times and 
times I was telling myself I had made a rue bargain; but 
when Betsy came I thought, 'I might have done better, but 
I might have done worse, and he 's the father of my offspring, 
anyway.' ' 

Hearing no response to this either, Aunt Bridget went 
on to talk of Alma and her mother. Was not this the woman 
I suspected with my husband the young one with the big 
eyes and ' ' the quality toss with her ? ' ' Then why did I have 
a person like that about the house? 

"If you need bright and cheerful company, what's amiss 
with your aunt and your first cousin ? Some people are selfish, 
but I thank the saints I don't know what selfishness is. I'm 
willing to do for you what I did for your poor mother, and I 
can't say more than that, can I?" 

I must have made some kind of response, for Aunt Bridget 
went on to say it might be a sacrifice, but then she wouldn't 
be sorry to leave the Big House either. 

"I'm twenty years there, and now I'm to be a servant to 
my own stepchild. Dear heart knows if I can bear it much 
longer. The way that Nessy is carrying on with your father 
is something shocking. I do believe she'll marry the man 
some day." 

To escape from a painful topic I asked after my father's 
health. 

"Worse and worse, but Conrad's news was like laughing- 
gas to the man. He would have come with me to-day, but 
the doctor wouldn't hear of it. He'll come soon though, and 



326 THE WOMAN THOU GAYEST ME 

meantime he's talking and talking about a great entertain- 
ment. ' ' 

"Entertainment?" 

"To celebrate the forthcoming event, of course, though 
nobody is to know that except ourselves, it seems. Just a 
house-warming in honour of your coming home after your 
marriage that's all it's to be on the outside, anyway." 

I made some cry of pain, and Aunt Bridget said: 

"Oh, I know what you're going to say why doesn't he 
wait? I'll tell you why if you'll promise not to whisper a 
word to any one. Your father is a sick man, my dear. Let him 
say what he likes when Conrad talks about cancer, he knows 
Death's hand is over him. And thinking it may fall before 
your time has come, he wants to take time by the forelock and 
see a sort of fulfilment of the hope of his life and you know 
what that is." 

It was terrible. The position in which I stood towards my 
father was now so tragic that (wicked as it was) I prayed with 
all my heart that I might never look upon his face again. 

I was compelled to do so. Three days after Aunt Bridget 's 
visit my father came to see me. The day was fine and I 
was walking on the lawn when his big car came rolling up the 
drive. 

I was shocked to see the change in him. His face was 
ghastly white, his lips were blue, his massive and powerful 
head seemed to have sunk into his shoulders, and his limbs 
were so thin that his clothes seemed to hang on them; but 
the stern mouth was there still, and so was the masterful lift 
of the eyebrows. 

Coming over to meet me with an uncertain step, he said: 

"Old Conrad was for keeping me in bed, but I couldn't 
take rest without putting a sight on you." 

After that, and some plain speech out of the primitive man 
he always was and will be (about it's being good for a woman 
to have children because it saved her from "losing her 
stomach" over imaginary grievances), he led me, with the 
same half-contemptuous tenderness which he used to show 
to my mother, back to the house and into the drawing- 
room. 

Alma and her mother were there, the one writing at a desk, 
the other knitting on the sofa, and they rose as my father 
entered, but he waved them back to their places. 

"Set down, ma'am. Take your seat, mother. I'm only 



I BECOME A MOTHER 327 

here for a minute to talk to my gel about her great recep- 
tion." 

"Reception?" said Alma. 

"Hasn't she told you about it?" he said, and being 
answered that I had not, he gave a rough outline of his project, 
whereupon Alma, whose former attitude towards my father 
had changed to one of flattery and subservience, lifted her 
hands and cried: 

"How splendid! Such an inspiration! Only think, my 
love, you were to be kept bright and cheerful, and what 
could be better for that purpose?" 

In the torment of my soul I urged one objection after 
another it would be expensive, we could not afford it. 

"Who asks you to afford it? It's my affair, isn't it?"' 
said my father. 

I was unwell, and therefore unable to undertake the hard 
work of such an entertainment but that was the worst of 
excuses, for Alma jumped in with an offer of assistance. 

"My dearest child," she said, "you know how happy I 
shall be to help you. In fact, I '11 do all the work and you shall 
have all the glory. ' ' 

"There you are, then," cried my father, slapping me on 
the shoulder, and then, turning to Alma, he told her to set 
to work without a day's delay. 

"Let everything be done correct even if it costs me a bit 
of money." 

"Yes, sir." 

"A rael big thing, ma'am, such as nobody has ever seen 
before. ' ' 

"Yes indeed, sir." 

"Ask all the big people on the island Nessy MacLeod 
shall send you a list of them." 

"I will, sir." 

"That'll do for the present I guess I must be going now, 
or old Conrad will be agate of me. So long, gel, so long." 

I was silenced, I was helpless, I was ashamed. 

I did not know then, what now I know, that, besides the 
desire of celebrating the forthcoming birth of an heir, my 
father had another and still more secret object that of 
throwing dust in the eyes of his advocates, bankers, and insular 
councillors, who (having expected him to make money for 
them by magic) were beginning to whisper that all was not 
well with his financial schemes. 



328 THE WOMAN THOU GAVEST ME 

I did not know then, what now I know, that my father was 
at that moment the most tragic figure in Elian except myself, 
and that, shattered in health and shaken in fortune, he was 
indulging in this wild extravagance equally to assert his 
solvency and to gratify his lifelong passion under the very 
wing of Death. 

But oh, my wild woe, my frantic prayers! It was almost 
as if Satan himself were torturing me. 

The one terror of the next few days was that my husband 
might return home, for I knew that at the first moment 
of his arrival the whole world of make-believe which my 
father and Alma were setting up around me would tumble 
about my head like a pack of cards. 

He did not come, but he wrote. After saying that his politi- 
cal duties would keep him in London a little longer, he said: 

"I hear that your father is getting you to give a great 
reception in honour of our home-coming. But why now, 
instead of three months ago? Do you know the reason?" 

As I read these last words I felt an icy numbness creeping 
up from my feet to my heart. My position was becoming 
intolerable. The conviction was being forced upon me that 
I had no right in my husband's house. 

It made no difference that my husband's house was mine 
also, in the sense that it could not exist without me I had 
no right to be there. 

It made no difference that my marriage had been no mar- 
riage I had no right to be there. 

It made no difference that the man I had married was an 
utterly bad husband I had no right to be there. 

It made no difference that I was not really an adulterous 
wife I had no right to be there. 

Meanwhile Price, my maid, but my only real friend in 
Castle Kaa, with the liberty I allowed her, was unconsciously 
increasing my torture. Every night as she combed out my 
hair she gave me her opinion of my attitude towards Alma, 
and one night she said: 

' ' Didn 't I tell you she was only watching ,you, my lady 1 
The nasty-minded thing is making mischief with his lordship. 
She's writing to him every day. . . . How do I know? Oh, 
I don't keep my eyes and my ears open downstairs for nothing. 
You'll have no peace of your life, my lady, until you turn 
that woman out of the house." 



I BECOME A MOTHER 329 

Then in a fit of despair, hardly knowing what I was doing, 
I covered my face with my hands and said : 

"I had better turn myself out instead, perhaps." 

The combing of my hair suddenly stopped, and at the 
next moment I heard Price saying in a voice which seemed to 
come from a long way off: 

''Goodness gracious me! Is it like that, my lady?" 

SEVENTY-FIFTH CHAPTER 

ALMA was as good as her word. 

She did everything without consulting me fixed the date 
of the reception for a month after the day of my father's 
visit, and sent out invitations to all "the insular gentry" 
included in the lists which came from Nessy MacLeod in her 
stiff and formal handwriting. 

These lists came morning after morning, until the invita- 
tions issued reached the grand total of five hundred. 

As the rooms of the Castle were not large enough to ac- 
commodate so many guests, Alma proposed to erect a tem- 
porary pavilion. My father agreed, and within a week hun- 
dreds of workmen from Blackwater were setting up a vast 
wooden structure, in the form of the Colosseum, on the head- 
lands beyond the garden where Martin and I had walked to- 
gether. 

While the work went on my father's feverish pride seemed 
to increase. I heard of messages to Alma saying that no 
money was to be spared. The reception was to surpass in 
grandeur any fete ever held in Elian. Not knowing what 
high stakes my father was playing for, I was frightened by 
this extravagance, and from that cause alone I wished to 
escape from the sight of it. 

I could not escape. 

I felt sure that Alma hated me with an implacable hatred, 
and that she was trying to drive me away, thinking that 
would be the easiest means to gain her own ends. For this 
reason, among others, the woman in me would not let me fly, 
so I remained and went through a purgatory of suffering. 

Price, too, who had reconciled herself to my revelation, was 
always urging me to remain, saying: 

"Why should you go, my lady? You are your husband's 
wife, aren't you? Fight it out, I say. Ladies do so every 
day. Why shouldn't you?" 

Before long the whole island seemed to be astir about our 



330 THE WOMAN THOU GAVEST ME 

reception. Every day the insular newspapers devoted 
columns to the event, giving elaborate accounts of what limit- 
less wealth could accomplish for a single night's entertain- 
ment. In these descriptions there was much eulogy of my 
father as "the uncrowned king of Elian," as well as praise 
of Alma, who was ''displaying such daring originality," but 
little or no mention of myself. 

Nevertheless everybody seemed to understand the inner 
meaning of the forthcoming reception, and in the primitive 
candour of our insular manners some of the visits I received 
were painfully embarrassing. 

One of the first to come was my father's advocate, Mr. 
Curphy, who smiled his usual bland smile and combed his 
long beard while he thanked me for acting on his advice not 
to allow a fit of pique to break up a marriage which was so 
suitable from points of property and position. 

"How happy your father must be to see the fulfilment of 
his hopes," he said. "Just when his health is failing him, 
too! How good! How gratifying!" 

The next to come was the Bishop, who, smooth and suave 
as ever, congratulated me on putting aside all thoughts of 
divorce, so that the object of my marriage might be fulfilled 
and a good Catholic become the heir of Castle Raa. 

More delicate, but also more distressing, was a letter from 
Father Dan, saying he had been forbidden my husband's 
house and therefore could not visit me, but having heard an 
angel's whisper of the sweet joy that was coming to me, 
he prayed the Lord and His Holy Mother to carry me safely 
through. 

"I have said a rosary for you every day since you were 
here, my dear child, that you might be saved from a great 
temptation. And now I know you have been, and the 
sacrament of your holy marriage has fulfilled its mission, as 
I always knew it would. So God bless you, my daughter, 
and keep you pure and fit for eternal union with that blessed 
saint, your mother, whom the Lord has made His own. ' ' 

More than ever after this letter I felt that I must fly from 
my husband's house, but, thinking of Alma, my wounded 
pride, my outraged vanity (as I say, the woman in me), 
would not let me go. 

Three weeks passed. 

The pavilion had been built and was being hung with 
gaily painted bannerets to give the effect of the Colosseum as 



I BECOME A MOTHER 331 

seen at sunset. A covered corridor connecting the theatre 
with the house was being lined with immense hydrangeas 
and lit from the roof by lamps that resembled stars. 

A few days before the day fixed for the event Alma, who 
had been too much occupied to see me every day in the 
boudoir to which I confined myself, came up to give me 
my instructions. 

The entertainment was to begin at ten o'clock. I was to be 
dressed as Cleopatra and to receive my guests in the drawing- 
room. At the sound of a fanfare of trumpets I was to go into 
the theatre preceded by a line of pages, and accompanied by 
my husband. After we had taken our places in a private 
box a great ballet, brought specially from a London music- 
hall, was to give a performance lasting until midnight. Then 
there was to be a cotillon, led by Alma herself with my hus- 
band, and after supper the dancing was to be resumed and 
kept up until sunrise, when a basketful of butterflies and 
doves (sent from the South of France) were to be liberated 
from cages, and to rise in a multicoloured cloud through the 
sunlit space. 

I was sick and ashamed when I thought of this vain and 
gaudy scene and the object which I supposed it was intended 
to serve. 

The end of it all was that I wrote to my father, concealing 
the real cause of my suffering, but telling him he could not 
possibly be aware of what was being done in his name and 
with his money, and begging him to put an end to the enter- 
tainment altogether. 

The only answer I received was a visit from Nessy 
MacLeod. I can see her still as she came into my room, the 
tall gaunt figure with red hair and irregular features. 

"Cousin Mary," she said, seating herself stiffly on the 
only stiff-backed chair, and speaking in an impassive tone, 
"your letter has been received, but your father has not 
seen it, his health being such as makes it highly undesirable 
that he should be disturbed by unnecessary worries. ' ' 

I answered with some warmth that my letter had not been 
unnecessary, but urgent and important, and if she persisted 
in withholding it from my father I should deliver it myself. 

"Cousin Mary," said Nessy, "I know perfectly what your 
letter is, having opened and read it, and while I am as little 
as yourself in sympathy with what is going on here, I hap- 
pen to know that your father has set his heart on this enter- 



332 THE WOMAN THOU GAYEST ME 

tainment, and therefore I do not choose that it shall be 
put off." 

I replied hotly that in opening my letter to my father 
she had taken an unwarrantable liberty, and then (losing 
myself a little) I asked her by what right did she, who had 
entered my father's house as a dependent, dare to keep his 
daughter's letter from him. 

''Cousin Mary," said Nesey, in the same impassive tone, 
"you were always self-willed, selfish, and most insulting as 
a child, and I am sorry to see that neither marriage nor 
education at a convent has chastened your ungovernable 
temper. But I have told you that I do not choose that you 
shall injure your father's health by disturbing his plans, and 
you shall certainly not do so." 

"Then take care," I answered, "that in protecting my 
father's health you do not destroy it altogether." 

In spite of her cold and savourless nature, she understood 
my meaning, for after a moment of silence she said: 

"Cousin Mary, you may do exactly as you please. Your 
conduct in the future, whatever it may be, will be no affair 
of mine, and I shall not consider that I am in any way 
responsible for it." 

At last I began to receive anonymous letters. They came 
from various parts of Elian and appeared to be in different 
handwritings. Some of them advised me to fly from the 
island, and others enclosed a list of steamers' sailings. 

Only a woman who has been the victim of this species of 
cowardly torture can have any idea of the shame of it, and 
again and again I asked myself if I ought not to escape from 
my husband's house before he returned. 

But Price seemed to find a secret joy in the anonymous 
letters, saying she believed she knew the source of them; 
and one evening towards the end, she came running into my 
room with a shawl over her head, a look of triumph in her 
face, and an unopened letter in her hand. 

"There!" she said. "It's all up with Madame now. 
You've got the game in your own hands, my lady, and can 
send them all packing." 

The letter was addressed to my husband in London. Price 
had seized the arm of Alma's maid in the act of posting it, 
and under threat of the law (not to speak of instant personal 
chastisement) the girl had confessed that both this letter 



I BECOME A MOTHER 333 

and others had been written by our housekeeper under the 
inspiration of her mistress. 

Without any compunction Price broke the seal of the 
intercepted letter and read it aloud to me. It was a shock- 
ing thing, accusing me with Martin, and taunting my hus- 
band with the falseness of the forthcoming entertainment. 

Feeling too degraded to speak, I took the letter in silence 
out of my maid 's hands, and while I was in the act of locking 
it away in a drawer Alma came up with a telegram from my 
husband, saying he was leaving London by the early train 
the following morning and would arrive at Blackwater at 
half-past three in the afternoon. 

"Dear old Jimmy!" she said, "what a surprise you have 
in store for him! But of course you've told him already, 
haven't you? ... No? Ah, I see, you've been saving it all 
up to tell him face to face. Oh, happy, happy you!" 

It was too late to leave now. The hour of my trial had 
come. There was no possibility of escape. It was just as if 
Satan had been holding me in the net of my sin, so that I 
could not fly away. 

At three o'clock next day (which was the day before the 
day fixed for the reception) I heard the motor-car going off 
to meet my husband at Blaekwater. At four o 'clock I heard it 
return. A few minutes afterwards I heard my husband's 
voice in the hall. I thought he would come up to me directly, 
but he did not do so, and I did not attempt to go down. 
When, after a while, I asked what had become of him, I was 
told that he was in the library with Alma, and that they 
were alone. 

Two hours passed. 

To justify and fortify myself I thought how badly my hus- 
band had behaved to me. I remembered that he had married 
me from the most mercenary motives ; that he had paid off his 
mistress with the money that came through me; that he had 
killed by cruelty the efforts I had made to love him ; that he 
had humiliated me by gross infidelities committed on my 
honeymoon. I recalled the scenes in Rome, the scenes in 
Paris, and the insults I had received under my own roof. 

It was all in vain. Whether God means it that the woman's 
fault in breaking her marriage vows (whatever her sufferings 
and excuse) shall be greater than that of the man I do not 
know. I only know that I was trembling like a prisoner before 
her judge when, being dressed for dinner and waiting for 



334 THE WOMAN THOU GAVEST ME 

the sound of the bell, I heard my husband's footsteps approach 
my door. 

I was standing by the fire at that moment, and I held on to 
the mantelpiece as my husband came into the room. 

SEVENTY-SIXTH CHAPTER 

HE was very pale. The look of hardness, almost of brutality, 
which pierced his manner at normal moments had deepened, 
and I could see at a glance that he was nervous. His monocle 
dropped of itself from his slow grey eyes, and the white fat 
fingers which replaced it trembled. 

Without shaking hands or offering any other sort of saluta- 
tion he plunged immediately into the matter that was upper- 
most in his mind. 

"I am still at a loss to account for this affair of your 
father's," he said. "Of course I know what it is supposed to 
be a reception in honour of our home-coming. That explana- 
tion may or may not be sufficient for these stupid islanders, 
but it's rather too thin for me. Can you tell me what your 
father means by it?" 

I knew he knew what my father meant, so I said, trembling 
like a sheep that walks up to a barking dog: 
' ' Hadn 't you better ask that question of my father himself ? ' ' 

' ' Perhaps I should if he were here, but he isn 't, so I ask you. 
Your father is a strange man. There's no knowing what 
crude things he will not do to gratify his primitive instincts. 
But he does not spend five or ten thousand pounds for noth- 
ing. He isn't a fool exactly." 

"Thank you," I said. I could not help it. It was forced 
out of me. 

My husband flinched and looked at me. Then the bully 
in him, which always lay underneath, came uppermost. 

"Look here, Mary," he said. "I came for an explanation 
and I intend to have one. Your father may give this affair 
what gloss he pleases, but you must know as well as I do 
what rumour and report are saying, so we might as well speak 
plainly. Is it the fact that the doctor has made certain state- 
ments about your own condition, and that your father is 
giving this entertainment because . . . well, because he is 
expecting an heir?" 

To my husband's astonishment I answered: 

"Yee." 



I BECOME A MOTHER 335 

"So you admit it? Then perhaps you'll be good enough 
to tell me how that condition came about ? ' ' 

Knowing he needed no explanation, I made no answer. 

"Can't you speak?" he said. 

But still I remained silent. 

' ' You know what our relations have been since our marriage, 
so I ask you again how does that condition come about?" 

I was now trembling more than ever, but a kind of forced 
courage came to me and I said: 

"Why do you ask? You seem to know already." 

"I know what anonymous letters have told me, if that's 
what you mean. But I'm your husband and have a right 
to know from you. How does your condition come about, 
I ask you?" 

I cannot say what impulse moved me at that moment 
unless it was the desire to make a clean breast and an end 
of everytlrn?, but, stepping to my desk, I took out of a 
drawer the l^tT which Price had intercepted and threw it 
on the table. 

He took it up and read it, with the air of one to whom the 
contents were not news, and then asked how I came by it. 

"It was taken out of the hands of a woman who was in 
the act of posting it," I said. "She confessed that it was 
one of a number of such letters which had been inspired, if 
not written, by your friend Alma." 

"My friend Alma!" 

"Yes, your friend Alma." 

His face assumed a frightful expression and he said: 

"So that's how it is to be, is it? In spite of the admission 
you have just made you wish to imply that this" (hoi diner out 
the letter) "is a trumped-up affair, and that Alma is at the 
bottom of it. You're going to brazen it out, are you, and 
shelter your condition under your position as a married 
woman ? ' ' 

I was so taken by surprise by this infamous suggestion that 
I could not speak to deny it, and my husband went on to say : 

"But it doesn't matter a rush to me who is at the bottom 
of the accusation contained in this letter. There's only one 
thing of any consequence is it true ? ' ' 

My head was reeling, my eyes were dim, my palms were 
moist, I felt as if I were throwing myself over a precipice, 
but I answered: 

"It is perfectly true." 



336 

I think that was the last thing he expected. After a 
moment he said: 

' ' Then you have broken your marriage vows is that it ? " 

"Yes, if you call it so." 

' ' Call it so ? Call it so ? Good heavens, what do you call it ? " 

I did not reply, and after another moment he said: 

"But perhaps you wish me to understand that this man 
whom I was so foolish as to invite to my house abused my 
hospitality and betrayed my wife. Is that what you mean ? ' ' 

"No," I said. "He observed the laws of hospitality much 
better than you did, and if I am betrayed I betrayed myself. ' ' 

I shall never forget the look with which my husband re- 
ceived this confession. He drew himself up with the air of 
an injured man and said: 

"What? You mean that you yourself . . . deliberately 
. . . Good God!" 

He stopped for a moment and then said with a rush : 

"I suppose you've not forgotten what happened at the 
time of our marriage . . . your resistance and the ridicu- 
lous compact I submitted to? Why did I submit? Because I 
thought your innocence, your convent-bred ideas, and your 
ignorance of the first conditions of matrimony. . . . But 
I've been fooled, for you now tell me . . . after all my 
complacency . . . that you have deliberately ... In the 
name of God do you know what you are? There's only one 
name for a woman who does what you've done. Do you want 
me to tell you what that name is?" 

I was quivering with shame, but my mind, which was going 
at lightning speed, was thinking of London, of Cairo, of 
Rome, and of Paris. 

"Why don't you speak?" he cried, lifting his voice in his 
rage. "Don't you understand what a letter like this is 
calling you?" 

My heart choked. But the thought that came to me that, 
bad as his own life had been, he considered he had a right to 
treat me in this way because he was a man and I was a woman 
brought strength out of my weakness, so that when he 
went on to curse my Church and my religion, saying this was 
all that had come of "the mummery of my masses," I fired 
up for a moment and said: 

"You can spare yourself these blasphemies. If I have 



I BECOME A MOTHER 337 

done wrong, it is I, and not my Church, that is to blame 
for it." 

"If you have done wrong!" he cried. "Damn it, have 
you lost all sense of a woman's duty to her husband? While 
you have been married to me and I have been fool enough 
not to claim you as a wife because I thought you were only 
fit company for the saints and angels, you have been prosti- 
tuting yourself to this blusterer, this ..." 

' ' That is a lie, ' ' I said, stepping up to him in the middle of 
the floor. "It's true that I am married to you, but he is my 
real husband and you . . . you are nothing to me at all." 

My husband stood for a moment with his mouth agape. 
Then he began to laugh loudly, derisively, mockingly. 

"Nothing to you, am I? You don't mind bearing my 
name, though, and when your time comes you'll expect it 
to cover your disgrace." 

His face had become shockingly distorted. He was quivering 
with fury. 

' ' That 's not the worst, either, ' ' he cried. " It 's not enough 
that you should tell me to my face that somebody else is 
your real husband, but you must shunt your spurious offspring 
into my house. Isn't that what it all comes to ... all this 
damnable fuss of your father's . . . that you are going to 
palm off on me and my name and family your own and this 
man's . . . bastard?" 

And with the last word, in the drunkenness of his rage, he 
lifted his arm and struck me with the back of his hand across 
the cheek. 

The physical shock was fearful, but the moral infamy was 
a hundred-fold worse. I can truly say that not alone for 
myself did I suffer. When my mind, still going at b'ghtning 
speed, thought of Martin, who loved me so tenderly, I felt 
crushed by my husband's blow to the lowest depths of shame. 

I must have screamed, though I did not know it, for at the 
next moment Price was in the room and I saw that the house- 
keeper (drawn perhaps, as before, by my husband's loud 
voice) was on the landing outside the door. But even that did 
not serve to restrain him. 

"No matter," he said. "After what has passed you may 
not enjoy to-morrow's ceremony. But you shall go through 
it! By heaven, you shall! And when it is over, I shall 
have something to say to your father." 



338 THE WOMAN THOU GAVEST ME 

And with that he swung out of the room and went lunging 
down the stairs. 

I was still standing in the middle of the floor, with the blow 
from my husband's hand tingling on my cheek, when Price, 
after clashing the door in the face of the housekeeper, said, 
with her black eyes ablaze: 

' ' Well, if ever I wanted to be a man before to-day ! ' ' 

News of the scene went like wildfire through the house, 
and Alma's mother came to comfort me. In her crude and 
blundering way she told me of a similar insult she had suffered 
at the hands of the "bad Lord Raa, " and how it had been 
the real reason of her going to America. 

"Us married ladies have much to put up with. But cheer 
up, dearie. I guess you'll have gotten over it by to-morrow 
morning. ' ' 

\v hen she was gone I sat down before the fire. I did not cry. 
I felt as if I had reached a depth of suffering that was a 
thousand fathoms too deep for tears. I do not think I wept 
again for many months afterwards, and then it was a great 
joy, not a great grief, that brought me a burst of blessed tears. 

But I could hear my dear good Price crying behind me, and 
when I said: 

"Now you see for yourself that I cannot remain in this 
house any longer," she answered, in a low voice: 

"Yes, my lady." 

"I must go at once to-night if possible." 

"You shall. Leave everything to me, my lady." 

SEVENTY-SEVENTH CHAPTER 

THE bell rang, but of course I did not go down to dinner. 

As soon as Price had gone off to make the necessary arrange- 
ments I turned the key in the lock of my door, removed my 
evening gown, and began to dress for my flight. 

My brain was numb, but I did my best to confront the 
new situation that was before me. 

Hitherto I had been occupied with the problem of whether 
I should or should not leave my husband's house; now I 
had to settle the question of where I was to go to. 

I dared not think of home, for (Nessy MacLeod and Aunt 
Bridget apart) the house of my father was the last place I 
could fly to at a moment when I was making dust and ashes 
of his lifelong expectations. 

Neither dared I think of Sunny Lodge, although I remem- 



I BECOME A MOTHER 339 

bered, with a tug of tenderness, Christian Ann's last message 
about Mary O'Neill's little room that was always waiting for 
me for I thought of how I had broken my pledge to her. 

The only place I could think of was that which Martin had 
mentioned when he wished to carry me away London. In 
the mighty world of London I might hide myself from obser- 
vation and wait until Martin returned from his expedition. 

"Yes, yes, London," I told myself in my breathless excite- 
ment, little knowing what London meant. 

I began to select the clothes I was to carry with me and 
to wear on my journey. They must be plain, for I had to 
escape from a house in which unfriendly eyes would be watch- 
ing me. They must be durable, for during my time of waiting 
I expected to be poor. 

I hunted out some of the quaker-like costumes which had 
been made for me before my marriage; and when I had put 
them on I saw that they made a certain deduction from my 
appearance, but that did not matter to me now the only eyes 
I wished to look well in being down in the Antarctic seas. 

Then I tried to think of practical matters how I was 
to live in London and how, in particular, I was to meet the 
situation that was before me. Surely never did a more help- 
less innocent confront such a serious problem. I was a woman, 
and for more than a year I had been a wife, but I had no more 
experience of the hard facts of material existence than a child. 

I thought first of the bank-book which my father had sent 
me with authority to draw on his account. But it was then 
nine o'clock, the banks were closed for the day, and I knew 
enough of the world to see that if I attempted to cash a 
cheque in the morning my whereabouts would be traced. That 
must never happen, I must hide myself from everybody; 
therefore my bank-book was useless. 

"Quite useless," I thought, throwing it aside like so much 
waste paper. 

I thought next of my jewels. But there I encountered a 
similar difficulty. The jewels which were really mine, having 
been bought by myself, had been gambled away by my 
husband at Monte Carlo. What remained were the family 
jewels which had come to me as Lady Raa; but that was a 
name I was never more to bear, a person I was never more to 
think about, so I could not permit myself to take anything 
that belonged to her. 

The only thing left to me was my money. I had always 



340 THE WOMAN THOU GAYEST ME 

kept a good deal of it about me, although the only use I had 
had for it was to put it in the plate at church, and to scatter 
it with foolish prodigality to the boys who tossed somersaults 
behind the carriage in the road. 

Now I found it all over my room in my purse, in various 
drawers, and on the toilet-tray under my dressing-glass. 
Gathered together it counted up to twenty-eight pounds. 
I owed four pounds to Price, and having set them aside, I savr 
that I had twenty-four pounds left in notes, gold, and silver. 

Being in the literal and unconventional sense utterly igno- 
rant of the value of sixpence, I thought this a great sum, 
amply sufficient for all my needs, or at least until I secured 
employment for I had from the first some vague idea of 
earning my own living. 

"Martin would like that," I told myself, lifting my head 
with a thrill of pride. 

Then I began to gather up the treasures which were inex- 
pressibly more dear to me than all my other possessions. 

One of them was a little miniature of my mother which 
Father Dan had given me for a wedding-present when (as I 
know now) he would rather have parted with his heart's blood. 

Another was a pearl rosary which the Reverend Mother had 
dropped over my arm the last time she kissed me on the 
forehead; and the last was my Martin's misspelt love-letter, 
which was more precious to me than rubies. 

Not for worlds, I thought, would I leave these behind me, 
or ever part with them under any circumstances. 

Several times while I was busy with such preparations, 
growing more and more nervous every moment, Price came 
on tip-toe and tapped softly at my door. 

Once it was to bring me some food and to tell me, with 
many winks (for the good soul herself was trembling with 
excitement), that everything was "as right as ninepence. " 
I should get away without difficulty in a couple of hours, and 
until to-morrow morning nobody would be a penny the wiser. 

Fortunately it was Thursday, when a combined passenger 
and cargo steamer sailed to Liverpool. Of course the motor- 
car would not be available to take me to the pier, but Tommy 
the Mate, who had a stiff cart in which he took his surplus 
products to market, would be waiting for me at eleven o 'clock 
by the gate to the high road. 

The people downstairs, meaning my husband and Alma and 
her mother, were going off to the pavilion (where hundreds 



I BECOME A MOTHER 341 

of decorators were to work late and the orchestra and ballet 
were to have a rehearsal), and they had been heard to say that 
they would not be back until "way round about midnight." 

"But the servants?" I asked. 

"They're going too, bless them," said Price. "So eat your 
dinner in peace, my lady, and don't worry about a thing until 
I come back to fetch you. ' ' 

Another hour passed. I was in a fever of apprehension. I 
?3lt like a prisoner who was about to escape from a dungeon. 

A shrill wind was coming up from the sea and whistling 
about the house. I could hear the hammering of the workmen 
in the pavilion as well as the music of the orchestra practising 
their scores. 

A few minutes before eleven Price returned, carrying one 
of the smaller of the travelling-trunks I had taken to Cairo. 
I noticed that it bore no name and no initials. 

"It's all right," she said. "They've gone off, every 
mother's son and daughter of them all except the house- 
keeper, and I've caught her out, the cat!" 

That lynx-eyed person had begun to suspect. She had seen 
Tommy harnessing his horse and had not been satisfied with 
his explanation that he was taking tomatoes to Blackwater 
to be sent off by the Liverpool steamer. 

So to watch events, without seeming to watch them, the 
housekeeper (when the other servants had gone off to the 
rehearsal) had stolen upstairs to her room in the West tower 
overlooking the back courtyard. 

But Price had been more than a match for her. Creeping 
up behind, she had locked the door of the top landing, and 
now the "little cat" might scream her head off through the 
window, and (over the noises of the wind and the workmen) 
it would be only like "torn" shrieking on the tiles. 

"We must be quick, though," said Price, tumbling into my 
travelling-trunk as many of my clothes as it would hold. 

When it was full and locked and corded she said: 

"Wait," and stepped out on the landing to listen. 

After a moment she returned saying: 

"Not a sound! Now for it, my lady." 

And then, tying her handkerchief over her head to keep 
down her hair in the wind, she picked up the trunk in her 
arms and crept out of the room on tiptoe. 

The moment had come to go, yet, eager as I had been all 
evening to escape from my husband's house, I could scarcely 



342 THE WOMAN THOU GAVEST ME 

tear myself away, for I was feeling a little of that regret which 
comes to us all when we are doing something for the last 
time. 

Passing through the boudoir this feeling took complete 
possession of me. Only a few hours before it had been the 
scene of my deepest degradation, but many a time before it 
had been the place of my greatest happiness. 

"You are my wife. I am your real husband. No matter 
where you are or what they do with you, you are mine and 
always will be." 

Half -closing the door, I took a last look round at the piano, 
the desk, the table, the fireplace, all the simple things asso- 
ciated with my dearest memories. So strong was the yearning 
of my own soul that I felt as if the soul of Martin were in the 
room with me at that moment. 

I believe it was. 

"Quick, my lady, or you'll lose your steamer," whispered 
Price, and then we crossed the landing (which was creaking 
again) and crept noiselessly down a back staircase. 

We were near the bottom when I was startled by a loud 
knocking, which seemed to come from a distant part of the 
house. My heart temporarily stopped its beating, but Price 
only laughed and whispered : 

"There she is! We've fairly caught her out, the cat." 

At the next moment Price opened an outer door, and after 
we had passed through she closed and locked it behind us. 

We were then in the courtyard behind the house, stumbling 
in the blinding darkness over cobble-stones. 

"Keep close to me, my lady," said Price. 

After a few moments we reached the drive. I think I was 
more nervous than I had ever been before. I heard the 
withered leaves behind me rustling along the ground before 
the wind from the sea, and thought they were the footsteps 
of people pursuing us. I heard the hammering of the work- 
men and the music of the orchestra, and thought they were 
voices screaming to us to come back. 

Price, who was forging ahead, carried the trunk in her arms 
as if it had been a child, but every few minutes she waited 
for me to come up to her, and encouraged me when I stumbled 
in the darkness. 

"Only a little further, my lady," she said, and I did my 
best to struggle on. 

We reached the gate to the high road at last. Tommy the 



I BECOME A MOTHER 343 

Mate was there with his stiff cart, and Price, who was breath- 
less after her great exertion, tumbled my trunk over the tail- 
board. 

The time had come to part from her, and, remembering how 
faithful and true she had been to me, I hardly knew what 
to say. I told her I had left her wages in an envelope on the 
dressing-table, and then I stammered something about being 
too poor to make her a present to remember me by. 

"It doesn't need a present to help me to remember a good 
mistress, my lady," she said. 

"God bless you for being so good to me," I answered, and 
then I kissed her. 

"I'll remember you by that, though," she said, and she 
began to cry. 

I climbed over the wheel of the stiff cart and seated myself 
on my trunk, and then Tommy, who had been sitting on the 
front-board with his feet on the outer shaft, whipped up his 
horse and we started away. 

During the next half-hour the springless cart bobbed along 
the dark road at its slow monotonous pace. Tommy never 
once looked round or spoke except to his horse, but I under- 
stood my old friend perfectly. 

I was in a fever of anxiety lest I should be overtaken and 
carried back. Again and again I looked behind. At one 
moment, when a big motor-car, with its two great white eyes, 
came rolling up after us, my stormy heart stood still. But it 
was not my husband's car, and in a little while its red tail-light 
disappeared in the darkness ahead. 

We reached Blackwater in time for the midnight steamer 
and drew up at the landward end of the pier. It was cold ; 
the salt wind from the sea was very chill. Men who looked like 
commercial travellers were hurrying along with their coat- 
collars turned up, and porters with heavy trunks on their 
shoulders were striving to keep pace with them. 

I gave my own trunk to a porter who came up to the cart, 
and then turned to Tommy to say good-bye. The old man had 
got down from the shaft and was smoothing his smoking 
horse, and snuffling as if he had caught a cold. 

"Good-bye, Tommy," I said and then something more 
which I do not wish to write down. 

"Good-bye, lil missie, " he answered (that cut me deep), 
"I never believed ould Tom Dug would live to see ye laving 
home like this. . . . But wait! Only wait till himself 



344 THE WOMAN THOU GAYEST ME 

is after coming back, and I'll go bail it'll be the divil sit up 
for some of them." 

SEVENTY-EIGHTH CHAPTER 

IT was very dark. No more than, three or four lamps on the 
pier were burning, but nevertheless I was afraid that the 
pier-master would recognise me. 

I thought he did so as I approached the gangway to the 
saloon, for he said: 

II Private cabin on main deck aft." 

Nervous as I was, I had just enough presence of mind to 
say ' ' Steerage, please, ' ' which threw him off the scent entirely, 
BO that he cried, in quite a different voice : 

"Steerage passengers forward." 

I found my way to the steerage end of the steamer ; and in 
order to escape observation from the few persons on the pier 
I went down to the steerage cabin, which was a little triangular 
place in the bow, with an open stove in the middle of the floor 
and a bleary oil-lamp swinging from a rafter overhead. 

The porter found me there, .and in my foolish ignorance of 
the value of money I gave him half a crown for his trouble. 
He first looked at the coin, then tested it between his teeth, 
then spat on it, and finally went off chuckling. 

The first and second bells rang. I grudsred every moment 
of delay before the steamer sailed, for I still felt like a pris- 
oner who was running away and might even yet be brought 
back. 

Seating myself in the darkest corner of the cabin, I waited 
and watched. There were only two other steerage passengers 
and they were women. Judging by their conversation I con- 
cluded that they were cooks from lodging-houses on "the 
front, ' ' returning after a long season to their homes in Liver- 
pool. Both were very tired, and they were spreading their 
blankets on the bare bunks so as to settle themselves for the 
night. 

At last the third bell rang. I heard the engine whistle, the 
funnel belch out its smoke, the hawsers being thrown off, the 
gangways being taken in, and then, looking through the port- 
hole, I saw the grey pier gliding behind us. 

After a few moments, with a feeling of safety and a sense 
of danger passed, I went up on deck. But oh, how little I 
knew what bitter pain I was putting myself to ! 



I BECOME A MOTHER 345 

We were just then swinging round the lighthouse which 
stands on the south-east headland of the bay, and the flash 
of its revolving light in my face as I reached the top of the 
cabin stairs brought back the memory of the joyous and 
tumultuous scenes of Martin's last departure. 

That, coupled and contrasted with the circumstances of my 
own flight, stealthily, shamefully, and in the dead of night, 
gave me a pang that was almost more than I could bear. 

But my cup was not yet full. A few minutes afterwards 
we sailed in the dark past the two headlands of Port Raa, and, 
looking up, I saw the lights in the windows of my husband's 
house, and the glow over the glass roof of the pavilion. 

What would happen there to-morrow morning when it was 
discovered that I was gone? What would happen to-morrow 
night when my father arrived, ignorant of my flight, as I 
felt sure the malice of my husband would keep him? 

Little as I knew then of my father's real motives in giving 
that bizarre and rather vulgar entertainment, I thought I 
saw and heard everything that would occur. 

I saw the dazzling spectacle, I saw the five hundred guests, 
I saw Alma and my husband, and above all I saw my father, 
the old man stricken with mortal maladies, the wounded lion 
whom the shadow of death itself could not subdue, degraded 
to the dust in his hour of pride by the act of his own child. 

I heard his shouts of rage, his cries of fury, his imprecations 
on me as one who should never touch a farthing of his fortune. 
And then I heard the whispering of his "friends," who were 
telling the "true story" of my disappearance, the tale of my 
"treacheries" to my husband just as if Satan had willed it 
that the only result of the foolish fete on which my father had 
wasted his wealth like water should be the publication of 
my shame. 

But the bitterest part of my experience was still to come. 

In a few minutes we sailed past the headlands of Port Raa, 
the lights of my husband's house shot out of view like meteors 
on a murky night, and the steamer turned her head to the 
open sea. 

I was standing by a rope which crossed the bow and holding 
on to it to save myself from falling, for, being alone with 
Nature at last, I was seeing my flight for the first time in full 
light. 

I was telling myself that as surely as my flight became 
known Martin's name would be linked with mine, and the 



346 THE WOMAN THOU GAVEST ME 

honour that was dearer to me than my own would be buried 
in disgrace. 

God ! God ! Why should Nature be so hard and cruel 
to a woman? Why should it be permitted that, having done 
no worse than obey the purest impulses of my heart, the iron 
law of my sex should rise up to condemn both me and the one 
who was dearer to my soul than life itself? 

1 hardly know how long I stood there, holding on to that 
rope. There was no sound now except the tread of a sailor in 
his heavy boots, an inarticulate call from the bridge, an 
answering shout from the wheel, the rattling of the wind in 
the rigging, the throbbing of the engine in the bowels of the 
ship, and the monotonous wash of the waves against her side. 

Oh, how little I felt, how weak, how helpless! 

I looked up towards the sky, but there seemed to be no sky, 
no moon, and no stars, only a vaporous blackness that came 
down and closed about me. 

I looked out to the sea, but there seemed to be no sea, only 
a hissing splash of green spray where the steamer's forward 
light fell on the water which her bow was pitching up, and 
beyond that nothing but a threatening and thundering void. 

I did not weep, but I felt as other women had felt before 
me, as other women have felt since, as women must always 
feel after they have sinned against the world and the world's 
law, that there was- nothing before me but the blackness of 
night. 

"Out of the depths I cry unto thee, O Lord. Lord, hear 
my cry." 

But all at once a blessed thought came to me. We were 
travelling eastward, and dark as the night was now, in a few 
hours the day would dawn, the sun would shine in our faces 
and the sky would smile over our heads ! 

It would be like that with me. Martin would come back. 
I was only going to meet him. It was dark midnight with me 
now, but I was sailing into the sunrise ! 

Perhaps I was like a child, but I think that comforted me. 

At all events I went down to the little triangular cabin with 
a cheerful heart, forgetting that I was a runaway, a homeless 
wanderer, an outcast, with nothing before me but the wilder- 
ness of London where I should be friendless and alone. 

The fire had gone out by this time, the oil-lamp was swing- 



I BECOME A MOTHER 347 

ing to the motion of the ship, the timbers were creaking, and 
the Liverpool women were asleep. 

SEVENTY-NINTH CHAPTER 

AT eight o'clock next morning I was in 'the train leaving 
Liverpool for London. 

I had selected a second-class compartment labelled "For 
Ladies," and my only travelling companion was a tall fair 
woman, in a seal-skin coat and a very large black hat. She had 
filled the carriage with the warm odour of eau-de-Cologne and 
the racks on both sides with her luggage, which chiefly con- 
sisted of ladies' hat boxes of various shapes and sizes. 

Hardly had we started when I realised that she was a very 
loquacious and expansive person. 

Was I going all the- way? Yes? Did I live in Liverpool? 
No? In London perhaps? No? Probably I lived in the 
country? Yes? That was charming, the country being so 
lovely. 

I saw in a moment that if my flight was to be carried out to 
any purpose I should have to conceal my identity; but how to 
do so I did not know, my conscience never before having had 
to accuse me of deliberate untruth. 

Accident helped me. My companion asked me what was 
my husband's profession, and being now accustomed to think 
of Martin as my real husband, I answered that he was a 
commander. 

"You mean the commander of a ship?'* 

''Yes." 

"Ah, yes, you've been staying in Liverpool to see him off 
on a voyage. How sweet! Just what I should do myself if 
my husband were a sailor." 

Then followed a further battery of perplexing questionsi 

Had my husband gone on a long voyage? Yes? Where 
to? The South. Did I mean India, Australia, New Zealand? 
Yes, and still farther. 

"Ah, I see," she said again. "He's probably the captain 
of a tramp steamer, and will go from port to port as long as 
he can find a cargo." 

Hardly understanding what my companion meant by this, I 
half agreed to it, and then followed a volley of more personal 
inquiries. 

I was young to be married, wasn't I? Probably I hadn't 



345 

been married, very long, had I? And not having settled 
myself in a home perhaps I was going up to London to wait 
for my husband? Yesf How wise town being so much 
more cheerful than the country. 
* Any friends there?" 
'No." 

'None whatever?" 
'None whatever." 
'But won't you be lonely by yourself in London?" 

"A little lonely perhaps." 

Being satisfied that she had found out everything about me, 
my travelling companion (probably from the mere love of 
talking) told me something about herself. 

She was a fashionable milliner and had a shop in the West 
End of London. Occasionally she made personal visits to the 
provinces to take orders from the leading shopkeepers, but 
during the season she found it more profitable to remain in 
town, where her connection was large, among people who 
could pay the highest prices. 

By this time we had reached Crewe, and as there was some 
delay in getting into the station, my travelling companion put 
her head out of the window to inquire the cause. She was told 
that a night train from Scotland was in front of us, and we 
should have to be coupled on to it before we could proceed to 
London. 

This threw her into the wildest state of excitement. 

"I see what it is," she said. "The shooting season is over 
and the society people are coming down from the moors. I 
know lots and lots of them. They are my best customers 
the gentlemen at all events." 

"The gentlemen?" 

"Why, yes," she said with a little laugh. 

After some shunting our Liverpool carriages were coupled 
to the Scotch train and run into the station, where a number 
of gentlemen in knickerbockers and cloth caps were strolling 
about the platform. 

My companion seemed to know them all, and gave them 
their names, generally their Christian names, and often their 

familial- ones. 

Suddenly I had a shock. A tell man, whose figure I recog- 
nised, passed close by our carriage, and I had only time to 
conceal myself from observation behind the curtain of the 
window. 



I BECOME A MOTHER 349 

c ' HeUoa ! * ' cried my companion. ' c There 's Teddy Eastcliff. 
He married Camilla, the Russian dancer. They first met in 
my shop I may tell you." 

I was feeling hot and cold by turns, but a thick veil must 
have hidden my confusion, for after we left Crewe my com- 
panion, becoming still more confidential, talked for a long time 
about her aristocratic customers, and I caught a glimpse of a 
life that was on the verge of a kind of fashionable Bohemia. 

More than once I recognised my husband's friends among 
the number of her clients, and trembling lest my husband him- 
self should become a subject of discussion, I made the excuse 
of a headache to close my eyes and be silent. 

My companion thereupon slept, very soundly and rather 
audibly, from Rugby to Willesden, where, awakening with a 
start while the tickets were being collected, she first powdered 
her face by her fashion-glass and then interested herself afresh 
in my affairs. 

"Did you say, my dear, that you have no friends in 
London!" 

I repeated that I had none. 

"Then you will go to an hotel, I suppose?" 

I answered that I should have to look for something less 
expensive. 

"In that case," she said, "I think I know something that 
will suit you exactly." 

It was a quiet boarding establishment in Bloomsbury 
comfortable house, reasonable terms, and, above all, perfectly 
respectable. In fact, it was kept by her own sister, and if I 
liked she would take me along in her cab and drop me at the 
door. Should she ? 

Looking back at that moment I cannot but wonder that 
after what I had heard I did not fear discovery. But during 
the silence of the last hour I had been feeling more than ever 
weak and helpless, so that when my companion offered me a 
shelter in that great, noisy, bewildering city in which I had 
intended to hide myself, but now feared I might be submerged 
and lost, with a willing if not a cheerful heart I accepted. 

Half an hour afterwards our cab drew up in a street off 
Russell Square at a rather grimy-looking house which stood 
at the corner of another and smaller square that was shut off 
by an iron railing. 

The door was opened by a young waiter of sixteen or 



350 THE WOMAN THOU GAYEST ME 

seventeen years, who was wearing a greasy dress-suit and a 
soiled shirt front. 

My companion pushed into the hall, I followed her, and 
almost at the same moment a still larger and perhaps grosser 
woman than my friend, with the same features and complexion, 
came out of a room to the left with a serviette in her hand. 

"Sophie!" 

"Jane!" cried my companion, and pointing to me she said: 

"I've brought you a new boarder." 

Then followed a rapid account of where she had met me, 
who and what I was, and why I had come up to London. 

/'I've promised you'll take her in and not charge her too 
much, you know." 

' ' "Why, no, certainly not, ' ' said the sister. 

At the next moment the boy waiter was bringing my trunk 
into the house on his shoulder and my travelling companion 
was bidding me good-bye and saying she would look me up 
later. 

When the door was closed I found the house full of the smell 
of hot food, chiefly roast beef and green vegetables, and I 
could hear the clink of knives and forks and the clatter of 
dishes in the room the landlady had come from. 

"You'd like to go up to your bedroom at once, wouldn't 
you ? ' ' she said. 

We went up two flights of stairs covered with rather dirty 
druggeting, along a corridor that had a thin strip of linoleum, 
and finally up a third flight that was bare to the boards, until 
we came to a room which seemed to be at the top of the house 
and situated in its remotest corner. 

It was a very small apartment, hardly larger than the room 
over the hall at home in which Aunt Bridget had made me sleep 
when I was a child, and it was nearly as cold and cheerless. 

The wall-paper, which had once been a flowery pink, was 
now pale and patternless ; the Venetian blind over the window 
(which looked out on the smaller square) had lost one of its 
cords and hung at an irregular angle ; there was a mirror over 
the mantelpiece with the silvering much mottled, and a leather- 
covered easy chair whereof the spring was broken and the 
seat heavily indented. 

' ' I dare say this will do for the present, ' ' said my landlady, 
and though my heart was in my mouth I compelled myself to 
agree. 

' ' My terms, including meals and all extras, will be a pound 



I BECOME A MOTHER 351 

a week, ' ' she added, and to that also, with a lump in my throat 
I assented, whereupon my landlady left me, saying luncheon 
was on and I could come downstairs when I was ready. 

A talkative cockney chambermaid, with a good little face, 
brought me a fat blue jug of hot water, and after I had washed 
and combed I found my way down to the dining-room. 

What I expected to find there I hardly know. What I did 
find was a large chamber, as dingy as the rest of the house, 
and as much in need of refreshing, with a long table down the 
middle, at which some twenty persons sat eating, with the 
landlady presiding at the top. 

The company, who were of both sexes and chiefly elderly, 
seemed to me at that first sight to be dressed in every variety 
of out-of-date clothes, many of them rather shabby and some 
almost grotesque. 

Raising their faces from their plates they looked at me as 
I entered, and I was so confused that I stood hesitating near 
the door until the landlady called to me. 

"Come up here," she said, and when I had done so, and 
taken the seat by her side, which had evidently been reserved 
for me, she whispered: 

"I don't think my sister mentioned your name, my dear. 
What is it?" 

I had no time to deliberate. 

"O'Neill," I whispered back, and thereupon my landlady, 
raising her voice, and addressing the company as if they had 
been members of her family, said: 

"Mrs. O'Neill, my dears." 

Then the ladies at the table inclined their heads at me and 
smiled, while the men (especially those who were the most 
strangely dressed) rose from their seats and bowed deeply. 

EIGHTIETH CHAPTER 

OP all houses in London this, I thought, was the least suitable 
to me. 

Looking down the table I told myself that it must be the 
very home of idle gossip and the hot-bed of tittle-tattle. 

I was wrong. Hardly had I been in the house a day when 
I realised that my fellow-guests were the most reserved and 
self-centred of all possible people. 

One old gentleman who wore a heavy moustache, and had 
been a colonel in the Indian army, was understood to be a 



352 THE WOMAN THOU GAYEST ME 

student of Biblical prophecy, having collected some thousands 
of texts which established the identity of the British nation 
with the lost tribes of Israel. 

Another old gentleman, who wore a patriarchal beard and 
had taken orders without securing a living, was believed to be 
writing a history of the world and (after forty years of con- 
tinuous labour) to have reached the century before Christ. 

An elderly lady with a benign expression was said to be a 
tragic actress who was studying in secret for a season at the 
National Theatre. 

Such, and of such kind, were my house-mates ; and I have 
since been told that every great city has many such groups of 
people, the great prophets, the great historians, the great 
authors, the great actors whom the world does not know the 
odds and ends of humanity, thrown aside by the rushing river 
of life into the gulley-ways that line its banks, the odd brothers, 
the odd sisters, the odd uncles, the odd aunts, for whom there 
is no place in the family, in society, or in the business of 
the world. 

It was all very curious and pathetic, yet I think I should 
have been safe, for a time at all events, in this little corner of 
London into which chance had so strangely thrown me, but 
for one unfortunate happening. 

That was the arrival of the daily newspaper. 

There was never more than a single copy. It came at eight 
in the morning and was laid on the dining-room mantelpiece, 
from which (by an unwritten law of the house) it was the duty 
as well as the honour of the person who had first finished 
breakfast to take it up and read the most startling part of the 
news to the rest of the company. 

Thus it occurred that on the third morning after my arrival 
I was startled by the voice of the old colonel, who, standing 
back to the fire, with the newspaper in his hand, cried : 

"Mysterious Disappearance of a Peeress." 

' ' Read it, ' ' said the old clergyman. 

The tea-cup which I was raising to my mouth trembled in 
my hand, and when I set it down it rattled against the saucer. 
I knew what was coming, and it came. 

The old colonel read: 

"A telegram from Blackwater announces the mysterious dis- 
appearance of the young wife of Lord Raa, which appears to 



I BECOME A MOTHER 353 

have taken place late on Thursday night or in the early hours 
of Friday morning. 

"It will be remembered that the missing lady was married a 
little more than a year ago, and her disappearance is the more 
unaccountable from the fact that during the past month she 
has been actively occupied in preparing for a fete in honour of 
her return home after a long and happy honeymoon. 

"The pavilion in which the fete was to have been held had 
been erected on a headland between Castle Raa and a precipi- 
tous declivity to the sea, and the only reasonable conjecture is 
that the unhappy lady, going out on Thursday night to super- 
intend the final preparations, lost her way in the darkness and 
fell over the cliffs. 

"The fact that the hostess was missing was not generally 
known in Elian until the guests had begun to arrive for the 
reception on Friday evening, when the large assembly broke 
up in great confusion. 

"Naturally much sympathy is felt for the grief-stricken 
husband." 

After the colonel had finished reading I had an almost 
irresistible impulse to scream, feeling sure that the moment 
my house-mates looked into my .face they must see that I was 
the person indicated. 

They did not look, and after a chorus of exclamations 
("Most mysterious!" "What can have become of her?" "On 
the eve of her fete too !") they began to discuss disappearances 
in general, each illustrating his point by reference to the sub- 
ject of his own study. 

"Perfectly extraordinary how people disappear nowadays," 
said one. 

"Extraordinary, sir?" said the old colonel, looking over 
his spectacles, "why should it be extraordinary that one per- 
son should disappear when whole nations the ten tribes for 
example. . . ." 

"But that's a different thing altogether," said the old 
clergyman. "Now if you had quoted Biblical examples 
Elisha or perhaps Jonah. . . ." 

After the discussion had gone on for several minutes in this 
way I rose from the table on my trembling limbs and slipped 
out of the room. 

It would take long to tell of the feverish days that followed 

z 



354 THE WOMAN THOU GAVEST ME 

how newspaper correspondents were sent from London to 
Elian to inquire into the circumstances of my disappearance ; 
how the theory of accident gave place to the theory of suicide, 
and the theory of suicide to the theory of flight ; how a porter 
on the pier. at Blackwater said he had carried my trunk to the 
steamer that sailed on Thursday midnight, thinking I was a 
maid from the great house until I had given him half-a-crown 
(his proper fee being threepence) ; how two female passengers 
had declared that a person answering to my description had 
sailed with them to Liverpool; how these clues had been 
followed up and had led to nothing; and how, finally, the 
correspondents had concluded the whole incident of my dis- 
appearance could not be more mysterious if I had been 
dropped from mid-air into the middle of the Irish Sea. 

But then came another development. 

My father, who was reported to have received the news of 
my departure in a way that suggested he had lost control 
of his senses (raging and storming at my husband like a man 
demented), having come to the conclusion that I, being in a 
physical condition peculiar to women, had received a serious 
shock resulting in a loss of memory, offered five hundred 
pounds reward for information that would lead to my dis- 
covery, which was not only desirable to allay the distress of 
my heart-broken family but urgently necessary to settle 
important questions of title and inheritance. 

With this offer of a reward came a description of my per- 
sonal appearance. 

"Age 20, a little under medium height; slight; very black 
hair; lustrous dark eyes; regular features; pale face; grave 
expression; unusually sunny smile." 

It would be impossible for me to say with what perturbation 
I heard these reports read out by the old colonel and the old 
clergyman. Even the nervous stirring of my spoon and the 
agitated clatter of my knife and fork made me wonder that 
my house-mates did not realise the truth, which must, I 
thought, be plainly evident to all eyes. 

They never did, being so utterly immersed in their own 
theories. But all the same I sometimes felt as if my fellow 
guests in that dingy house in Bloomsbury were my judges and 
jury, and more than once, in my great agitation, when the 
reports came near to the truth, I wanted to cry, ' ' Stop, stop, 
don 't you see it is I ? " 



I BECOME A MOTHER 355 

That I never did so was due to the fact that, not knowing 
what legal powers my father might have to compel my return 
to Elian, the terror that sat on me like a nightmare was that 
of being made the subject of a public quarrel between my 
father and my husband, concerning the legitimacy of my 
unborn child, with the shame and disgrace which that would 
bring not only upon me but upon Martin. 

I had some reason for this fear. 

After my father 's offer of a reward there came various spite- 
ful paragraphs (inspired, as I thought, by Alma and written 
by the clumsier hand of my husband) saying it was reported in 
Elian that, if my disappearance was to be accounted for on 
the basis of flight, the only ' ' shock ' ' I could have experienced 
must be a shock of conscience, rumour having for some time 
associated my name with that of a person who was not 
unknown in connection with Antarctic exploration. 

It was terrible. 

Day by way the motive of my disappearance became the sole 
topic of conversation in our boarding-house. I think the 
landlady must have provided an evening as well as a morning 
paper, for at tea in the drawing-room upstairs the most recent 
reports were always being discussed. 

After a while I realised that not only my house-mates but all 
London was discussing my disappearance. 

It was a rule of our boarding-house that during certain 
hours of the day everybody should go out as if he had business 
to go to, and having nothing else to do I used to walk up and 
down the streets. In doing so I was compelled to pass certain 
newsvendors' stalls, and I saw for several days that nearly 
every placard had something about "the missing peeress." 

When this occurred I would walk quickly along the 
thoroughfare with a sense of being pursued and the feeling 
which a nervous woman has when she is going down a dark 
corridor at night that noiseless footsteps are coming behind, 
and a hand may at any moment be laid on her shoulder. 

But nobody troubled me in the streets and the only person 
in our boarding-house who seemed to suspect me was our 
landlady. She said nothing, but when my lip was quivering 
while the old colonel read that cruel word about Martin I 
caught her little grey eyes looking aslant at me. 

One afternoon, her sister, the milliner, came to see me 
according to her promise, and though she, too, said nothing, 
I saw that, while the old colonel and the old clergyman were 



356 THE WOMAN THOU GAVEST ME 

disputing on the hearthrug about some disappearance which 
occurred thousands of years ago, she was looking fixedly at 
the fingers with which, in my nervousness, I was ruckling up 
the discoloured chintz of my chair. 

Then in a moment I don't know why it flashed upon me 
that my travelling companion was in correspondence with 
my father. 

That idea became so insistent towards dinner-time that I 
made pretence of being ill (which was not very difficult) to 
retire to my room, where the cockney chambermaid wrung 
handkerchiefs out of vinegar and laid them on my forehead to 
relieve my headache though she increased it, poor thing, by 
talking perpetually. 

Next morning the landlady came up to say that if, as she 
assumed from my name, I was Irish and a Catholic, I might 
like to receive a visit from a Sister of Mercy who called at 
the house at intervals to attend to the sick. 

I thought I saw in a moment that this was a subterfuge, but 
feeling that my identity was suspected I dared not give cause 
for further suspicion, so I compelled myself to agree. 

A few minutes later, having got up and dressed, I was 
standing with my back to the window, feeling like one who 
would soon have to face an attack, when a soft footstep came 
up my corridor and a gentle hand knocked at my door. 

"Come in," I cried, trembling like the last leaf at the end 
of a swinging bough. 

And then an astonishing thing happened. 

A young woman stepped quietly into the room and closed 
the door behind her. She was wearing the black and white 
habit of the Little Sisters of the Poor, but I knew her long, 
pale, plain-featured face in an instant. 

A flood of shame, and at the same time a flood of joy swept 
over me at the sight of her. 

It was Mildred Bankes. 

EIGHTY-FIRST CHAPTER 

"MARY," said Mildred, "speak low and tell me everything. " 
She sat in my chair, I knelt by her side, took one of her 

hands in both of mine, and told her. 

I told her that I had fled from my husband 's house because 

I could not bear to remain there any longer. 

I told her that my father had married me against my will, 



I BECOME A MOTHER 37 

in spite of my protests, when I was a child, and did not know 
that I had any right to resist him. 

I told her that my father God forgive me if I did him a. 
wrong did not love me, that he had sacrificed my happiness 
to his lust of power, and that if he were searching for me now 
it was only because my absence disturbed his plans and hurt 
his pride. 

I told her that my husband did not love me either, and that 
he had married me from the basest motives, merely to pay 
his debts and secure an income. 

I told her, too, that not only did my husband not love me, 
but he loved somebody else, that he had been cruel and brutal 
to me, and therefore (for these and other reasons) I could not 
return to him under any circumstances. 

While I was speaking I felt Mildred's hand twitching be- 
tween mine, and when I had finished she said : 

' ' But, my dear child, they told me your friends were broken- 
hearted about you; that you had lost your memory and per- 
haps your reason, and therefore it would be a good act to 
help them to send you home." 

' ' It 's not true, it 's not true, ' ' I said. 

And then in a low voice, as if afraid of being overheard, she 
told me how she came to be there that the woman who had 
travelled with me in the train from Liverpool, seeing my 
father 's offer of a reward, had written to him to say that she 
knew where I was and only needed somebody to establish my 
identity; that my father wished to come to London for this 
purpose, but had been forbidden by his doctor ; that our parish 
priest, Father Donovan, had volunteered to come instead, 
but had been prohibited by his Bishop; and finally that my 
father had written to his lawyers in London, and Father Dan 
to her, knowing that she and I had been together at the Sacred 
Heart in Rome, and that it was her work now to look after 
lost ones and send them safely back to their people. 

"And now the lawyer and the doctors are downstairs," she 
said in a whisper, "and they are only waiting for me to say 
who you are that they may apply for an order to send you 
home. ' ' 

This terrified me so much that I made a fervent appeal to 
Mildred to save me. 

"Oh, Mildred, save me, save me," I cried. 

"But how can I? How can I?" she asked. 



358 THE WOMAN THOU GAVEST ME 

I saw what she meant, and thinking to touch her still more 
deeply I told her the rest of my story. 

I told her that if I had fled from my husband's house it was 
not merely because he had been cruel and brutal to me, but 
because I, too, loved somebody else somebody who was far 
away but was coming back, and there was nothing I could not 
bear for him in the meantime, no pain or suffering or loneliness, 
and when he returned he would protect me from every danger, 
and we should love each other eternally. 

If I had not been so wildly agitated I 'should have known 
that this was the wrong way with Mildred, and it was not until 
I had said it all in a rush of whispered words that I saw her 
eyes fixed on me as if they were about to start from their 
sockets. 

"But, my dear, dear child," she said, "this is worse and 
worse. Your father and your husband may have done wrong, 
but you have done wrong too. Don 't you see you have ? ' ' 

I did not tell her that I had thought of all that before, and 
did not believe any longer that God would punish me for 
breaking a bond I had been forced to make. But when she 
was about to rise, saying that after all it would be a good thing 
to send me home before I had time to join my life to his 
whoever he was who had led me to forget my duty as a wife, 
I held her trembling hands and whispered : 

"Wait, Mildred. There is something I have not told you 
even yet. ' ' 

"What is it?" she asked, but already I could see that she 
knew what I was going to say. 

' ' Mildred, ' ' I said, " if I ran away from my husband it was 
not merely because I loved somebody else, but because. . . . " 

I could not say it. Do what I would I could not. But holy 
women like Mildred, who spend their lives among the lost 
ones, have a way of reading a woman's heart when it is in 
trouble, and Mildred read mine. 

"Do you mean that . . . that there are consequences 
. . . going to be ? " she whispered. 

"Yes." 

"Does your husband know?" 

"Yes." 

"And your father?" 

"No." 

Mildred drew her hand away from me and crossed herself, 
saying beneath her breath : 



I BECOME A MOTHER 359 

"Oh Mother of my God!" 

I felt more humbled than I had ever been before, but after 
a while I said : 

' ' Now you see why I can never go back. And you will save 
me, will you not ? ' ' 

There was silence for some moments. Mildred had drawn 
back in her chair as if an evil spirit had passed between us. 
But at length she said : 

"It is not for me to judge you, Mary. But the gentlemen 
will come up soon to know if you are the Mary O'Neill whom 
I knew at the Sacred Heart, and what am I to say to them ? ' ' 

"Say no," I cried. "Why shouldn't you? They'll never 
know anything to the contrary. Nobody will know." 

"Nobody?" 

I knew what Mildred meant, and in my shame and con- 
fusion I tried to excuse myself by telling her who the other 
woman was. 

"It is Alma," I said. 

"Alma? AlmaLier?" 

"Yes." 

And then I told her how Alma had come back into my life, 
how she had tortured and tempted me, and was now trying 
to persuade my husband, who was a Protestant, to divorce me 
that she might take my place. 

And then I spoke of Martin again I could not help it 
saying that the shame which Alma would bring on him would 
be a greater grief to me than anything else that could befall 
me in this world. 

' ' If you only knew who he is, " I said, ' ' and the honour he is 
held in, you would know that I would rather die a thousand 
deaths than that any disgrace should fall on him through me. ' ' 

I could see that Mildred was deeply moved at this, and 
though I did not intend to play upon her feelings, yet in the 
selfishness of my great love I could not help doing so. 

"You were the first of my girl friends, Mildred the very 
first. Don't you remember the morning after I arrived at 
school ? They had torn me away from my mother, and I was 
so little and lonely, but you were so sweet and kind. You took 
me into church for my first visitation, and then into the garden 
for my first rosary don 't you remember it ? " 

Mildred had closed her eyes. Her face was becoming very 
white. 

' ' And then don 't you remember the day the news came that 



360 THE WOMAN THOU GAYEST ME 

my mother was very ill, and I was to go home ? You came to 
see me off at the station, and don't you remember what you 
said when we were sitting in the train? You said we might 
never meet again, because our circumstances would be so 
different. You didn't think we should meet like this, did you ? " 

Mildred's face was growing deadly white. 

"My darling mother died. She was all I had in the world 
and I was all she had, and when she was gone there was no 
place for me in my father 's house, so I was sent back to school. 
But the Reverend Mother was very kind to me, and the end of 
it was that I wished to become a nun. Yes indeed, and never 
so much as on the day you took your vows. ' ' 

Mildred's eyes were still closed, but her eyelids were flut- 
tering and she was breathing audibly. 

' ' How well I remember it ! The sweet summer morning and 
the snow-white sunshine, and the white flowers and the white 
chapel of the Little Sisters, and then you dressed as a bride in 
your white gown and long white veil. I cried all through 
the ceremony. And if my father had not come for me then, 
perhaps I should have been a nun like you now. ' ' 

Mildred's lips were moving. I was sure she was praying 
to our Lady for strength to resist my pleading, yet that only 
made me plead the harder. 

' ' But God knows best what our hearts are made for, ' ' I said. 
"He knows that mine was made for love. And though you 
may not think it I know God knows that he who is away is 
my real husband not the one they married me to. You will 
not separate us, will you ? All our happiness his and mine 
is in your hands. You will save us, will you not?" 

Some time passed before Mildred spoke. It may have been 
only a few moments, but to me it seemed like an eternity. I 
did not know then that Mildred was reluctant to extinguish the 
last spark of hope in me. At length she said : 

"Mary, you don't know what you are asking me to do. 
When I took my vows I promised to speak the truth under all 
circumstances, no matter what the consequences, as surely as 
I should answer to God at the great Day of "Judgment. Yet 
you wish me to lie. How can I? How can I? Remember 
my vows, my duty. ' ' 

I think the next few minutes must have been the most evil 
of all my life. When I saw, or thought I saw, that, though one 
word would save me, one little word, Mildred intended to give 



I BECOME A MOTHER 361 

me away to the men downstairs, I leapt to my feet and burst 
out on her with the bitterest reproaches. 

"You religious women are always talking about your duty," 
I cried. "You never think about love. Love is kind and 
merciful; but no, duty, always duty! Love indeed! What 
do you cold creatures out of the convent, with your crosses and 
rosaries, know about love real love the blazing fire in a 
woman's heart when she loves somebody so much that she 
would give her heart's blood for him yes, and her soul itself 
if need be." 

What else I said I cannot remember, for I did not know what 
I was doing until I found myself looking out of the window 
and panting for breath. 

Then I became aware that Mildred was making no reply to 
my reproaches, and looking over my shoulder I saw that she 
was still sitting in my chair with both her hands covering her 
face and the tears trickling through her fingers on to the linen 
of her habit. 

That conquered me in a moment. 

I was seized with such remorse that I wished to throw 
my arms about her neck and kiss her. I dared riot do that, 
now, but I knelt by her side again and asked her to forgive me. 

"Forgive me, sister," I said. "I see now that God has 
brought us to this pass and there is no way out of it. You 
must do what you think is right. I shall always know you 
couldn't have done otherwise. He will know too. And if it 
must be that disgrace is to fall on him through me . . . 
and that when he comes home he will find . . ." 

But I could not bear to speak about that, so I dropped my 
head on Mildred's lap. 

During the silence that followed we heard the sound of 
footsteps coming up the stairs. 

"Listen! They're here," said Mildred. "Get up. Say 
nothing. Leave everything to me." 

I rose quickly and returned to the window. Mildred dried 
her eyes, got up from the chair and stood with her back to 
the fire-place. 

There was a knock at my door. I do not know which of us 
answered it, but my landlady came into the room, followed 
by three men in tall silk hats. 

"Excuse us, my dear," she said, in an insincere voice. 
"These gentlemen are making an examination of the house, 
and they wish to see your room. May they?" 



362 THE WOMAN THOU GAYEST ME 

I do not think I made any reply. I was holding my breath 
and watching intently. The men made a pretence of glancing 
round, but I could see they were looking at Mildred. Their 
looks seemed to say as plainly as words could speak: 

"Is it she?" 

Mildred hesitated for a moment, there was a dreadful silence 
and then may the Holy Virgin bless her ! she shook her head. 

I could bear no more. I turned back to the window. The 
men, who had looked at each other with expressions of sur- 
prise, tried to talk together in ordinary tones as if on common- 
place subjects. 

"So there's nothing to do here, apparently." 

* ' Apparently not. ' ' 

"Let's go, then. Good day, Sister. Sorry to have troubled 
you." 

I heard the door close behind them. I heard their low voices 
as they passed along the corridor. I heard their slow footsteps 
as they went down the stairs. And then, feeling as if my heart 
would burst, I turned to throw myself at Sister Mildred 's feet. 

But Sister Mildred was on her knees, with her face buried 
in my bed, praying fervently. 

EIGHTY-SECOND CHAPTER 

I DID not know then, and it seems unnecessary to say now, why 
my father gave up the search for me in London. He did so, 
and from the day the milliner's clue failed him I moved about 
freely. 

Then from the sense of being watched I passed into that of 
being lost. 

Sister Mildred was my only friend in London, but she was 
practically cut off from me. The Little Sisters had fixed her 
up (in the interests of her work among the lost ones) in a tiny 
flat at the top of a lofty building near Piccadilly, where her 
lighted window always reminded me of a lighthouse on the 
edge of a dangerous reef. But in giving me her address she 
warned me not to come to her except in case of urgent need, 
partly because further intercourse might discredit her denial, 
and partly because it would not be good for me to be called 
"one of Sister Veronica's girls" that being Mildred's name 
as a nun. 

Oh the awful loneliness of London ! 



I BECOME A MOTHER 363 

Others just as friendless have wandered in the streets of 
the big city. I knew I was not the first, and I am sure I have 
not been the last to find London the most solitary place in the 
world. But I really and truly think there was one day of 
the week when, from causes peculiar to my situation, my 
loneliness must have been deeper than that of the most friend- 
less refugee. 

Nearly every boarder in our boarding-house used to receive 
once a week or once a month a letter containing a remittance 
from some unknown source, with which he paid his landlady 
and discharged his other obligations. 

I had no such letter to receive, so to keep up the character 
I had not made but allowed myself to maintain (of being a 
commander's wife) I used to go out once a week under pre- 
tence of calling at a shipping office to draw part of my 
husband's pay. 

In my childish ignorance of the habits of business people I 
selected Saturday afternoon for this purpose ; and in my fear 
of encountering my husband, or my husband's friends in the 
West End streets, I chose the less conspicuous thoroughfares 
at the other side of the river. 

Oh, the wearisome walks I had on Saturday afternoons, wet 
or dry, down the Seven Dials, across Trafalgar Square, along 
Whitehall, round the eastern end of the Houses of Parliament, 
and past Westminster Pier (dear to me from one poignant 
memory), and so on and on into the monotonous and incon- 
spicuous streets beyond. 

Towards nightfall I would return, generally by the footway 
across Hungerford Bridge, which is thereby associated with 
the most painful moments of my life, for nowhere else did 
I feel quite so helpless and so lonely. 

The trains out of Charing Cross shrieking past me, the dark 
river flowing beneath, the steamers whistling under the bridge, 
the automobiles tooting along the Embankment, the clanging 
of the electric cars, the arc lamps burning over the hotels 
and the open flares blazing over the theatres all the never- 
resting life of London and myself in the midst of the tumult- 
uous solitude, a friendless and homeless girl. 

But God in His mercy saved me from all that saved me too, 
in ways in which it was only possible to save a woman. 

The first way was through my vanity. 

Glancing at myself in my mottled mirror one morning I was 
shocked to see that what with my loneliness and my weary 



364 THE WOMAN THOU GAYEST ME 

walks I was losing my looks, for my cheeks were hollow, my 
nose was pinched, my eyes were heavy with dark rings under- 
neath them, and I was plainer than Martin had ever seen me. 

This frightened me. 

It would be ridiculous to terll all the foolish things I did 
after that to improve and preserve my appearance for Martin 's 
sake, because every girl whose sweetheart is away knows quite 
well, and it is not important that anybody else should. 

There was a florist's shop in Southampton Row, and I went 
there every morning for a little flower which I wore in the 
breast of my bodice, making believe to myself that Martin had 
given it to me. 

There was a jeweller's shop there too, and I sold my wedding 
ring (having long felt as if it burnt my finger) and bought 
another wedding ring with an inscription on the inside "From, 
Martin to Mary." 

As a result of all this caressing of myself I saw after a while, 
to my great joy, that my good looks were coming back; and 
it would be silly to say what a thrill of delight I had when, 
going into the drawing-room of our boarding-house one day, 
the old actress called me ''Beauty" instead of the name I had 
hitherto been known by. 

The second way in which God saved me from my loneliness 
was through my condition. 

I did not yet know what angel was whispering to me out 
of the physical phase I was passing through, when suddenly I 
became possessed by a passion for children. 

It was just as if a whole new world of humanity sprang into 
life for me by magic. When I went out for my walks in the 
streets I ceased to be conscious of the faces of men and women, 
and it seemed as if London were peopled by children only. 

I saw no more of the crowds going their different ways like 
ants on an ant-hill, but I could not let a perambulator pass 
without peering under the lace of the hood at the little cherub 
face whose angel eyes looked up at me. 

There was an asylum for children suffering from incurable 
diseases in the smaller square beside our boarding-house, and 
every morning after breakfast, no matter how cold the day 
might be, I would open my window to hear the cheerful voices 
of the suffering darlings singing their hymn : 

"There's a Friend for little children, 
Above the bright blue sky." 



I BECOME A MOTHER 365 

Thus six weeks passed, Christmas approached, and the sad 
old city began to look glad and young and gay. 

Since a certain night at Castle Raa I had had a vague 
feeling that I had thrown myself out of the pale of the Church, 
therefore I had never gone to service since I came to London, 
and had almost forgotten that confession and the mass used 
to be sweet to me. 

But going home one evening in the deepening London fog 
(for the weather had begun to be frosty) I saw, through the 
open doors of a Catholic church, a great many lights in a side 
chapel, and found they were from a little illuminated model of 
the Nativity with the Virgin and Child in the stable among the 
straw. A group of untidy children were looking at it with 
bright beady eyes and chattering under their breath, while a 
black-robed janitor was rattling his keys to make them behave. 

This brought back the memory of Rome and of Sister 
Angela. But it also made me think of Martin, and remember 
his speech at the public dinner, about saying the prayers for 
the day with his comrades, that they might feel that they were 
not cut off from the company of Christian men. 

So telling myself he must be back by this time on that lonely 
plateau that guards the Pole, I resolved (without thinking of 
the difference of time) to go to mass on Christmas morning, 
in order to be doing the same thing as Martin at the same 
moment. 

With this in my mind I returned to our boarding-house and 
found Christmas there too, for on looking into the drawing- 
room on my way upstairs I saw the old actress, standing on a 
chair, hanging holly which the old colonel with old-fashioned 
courtesy was handing up to her. 

They were cackling away like two old hens when they caught 
sight of me, whereupon the old' actress cried : 

"Ah, here's Beauty!" 

Then she asked me if I would like, a ticket for a dress 
rehearsal on Christmas Eve of a Christmas pantomime. 

' ' The audience will be chiefly children out of the lanes and 
alleys round-about/but perhaps you won 't mind that, ' ' she said. 

I told her I should be overjoyed, and at two o'clock the 
following afternoon I was in my seat at the corner of the 
dress-circle of the great theatre, from which I could see both 
the stage and the auditorium. 

The vast place was packed with children from ceiling t* 



366 THE WOMAN THOU GAVEST ME 

floor, and I could see the invisible hands of thousands of 
mothers who had put the girls into clean pinafores and 
brushed and oiled the tousled heads of the boys. 

How their eager faces glistened! How sad they looked 
when the wicked sisters left Cinderella alone in the kitchen! 
How bright when the glittering fairy godmother came to visit 
her ! How their little dangling feet clapped together with joy 
when the pretty maid went off to the ball behind six little 
ponies which pranced along under the magical moonlight in 
the falling snow! 

But the part of the performance which they liked best was 
their own part when, in the interval, the band struck up one 
of the songs they sang in their lanes and alleys; 

"Yew aw the enny, Oi em ther bee, 
Oi'd like ter sip ther enny from those red lips yew see." 

That was so loaded with the memory of one of the happiest 
days of my life (the day I went with Martin to see the Scotia) 
that, in the yearning of the motherhood still unborn in me, I 
felt as if I should like to gather the whole screaming houseful 
of happy children to my breast. 

But oh why, why, why, does not Providence warn us when 
we are on the edge of tragic things ? 

The pantomime rehearsal being over I was hurrying home 
(for the evening was cold, though I was so warm within) when 
I became aware of a number of newsmen who were flying up 
from the direction of the Strand, crying their papers at the 
top of their voice. 

I did not usually listen to such people, but I was compelled 
to do so now, for they were all around me. 

"Paper third e'shen loss of the Sco-sha." 

The cry fell on me like a thunderbolt. An indescribable 
terror seized me. I felt paralysed and stood dead still. People 
were buying copies of the papers, and at first I made a feeble 
effort to do the same. But my voice was faint ; the newsman 
did not hear me and he went flying past. 

"Paper third e'shen reported loss of the Sco-slia." 

After that I dared not ask for a paper. Literally I dared 
not. I dared not know the truth. I dared not see the dreadful 
fact in print. 

So I began to hurry home. But as I passed through the 
streets, stunned, stupefied, perspiring, feeling as if I were 



I BECOME A MOTHER 367 

running away from some malignant curse, the newsmen seemed 
to be pursuing me, for they were darting out from every street. 

"Paper third e'shen loss of the Sco-sha." 

Faster and faster I hurried along. But the awful cry was 
always ringing in my ears, behind, before, and on either side. 

When I reached our boarding-house my limbs could scarcely 
support me. I had hardly strength enough to pull the bell. 
And before our young waiter had opened the door two news- 
men, crossing the square, were crying : 

"Paper third edition reported loss of the 'Scotia.' " 

EIGHTY-THIRD CHAPTER 

As I passed through the hall the old colonel and the old clergy- 
man were standing by the dining-room door. They were talk- 
ing excitedly, and while I was going upstairs, panting hard 
and holding on by the handrail, I heard part of their con- 
versation. 

"Scotia was the name of the South Pole ship, wasn't it?" 

"Certainly it was. We must send young John out for a 
paper." 

Reaching my room I dropped into my chair. My faculties 
had so failed me that for some minutes I was unable to think. 
Presently my tired brain recalled the word "Reported" and 
to that my last hope began to cling as a drowning sailor clings 
to a drifting spar. 

After a while I heard some of our boarders talking on the 
floor below. Opening my door and listening eagerly I heard 
one of them say, in such a casual tone : 

' ' Rather sad this South Pole business, isn 't it ? " 

"Yes, if it's true." 

"Doesn't seem much doubt about that unless there are 
two ships of the same name, you know." 

At that my heart leapt up. I had now two rafts to cling to. 
Just then the gong sounded, and my anxiety compelled me to 
go down to tea. 

As I entered the drawing-room the old colonel was unfolding 
a newspaper. 

"Here we are," he was saying. "Reported loss of the 
Scotia Appalling Antarctic Calamity." 

I tried to slide into the seat nearest to the door, but the old 
actress made room for me on the sofa close to the tea-table. 

"You enjoyed the rehearsal? Yes?" she whispered. 



368 THE WOMAN THOU GAYEST ME 

* ' Hush ! ' ' said our landlady, handing me a cup of tea, and 
then the old colonel, standing back to the fire, began to read. 

"Telegrams from New Zealand report the picking up of 
large fragments of a ship which were floating from the Ant- 
arctic seas. Among them were the bulwarks, some portions of 
the deck cargo, and the stern of a boat, bearing the name 
'Scotia.' 

"Grave fears are entertained that these fragments belong to 
the schooner of the South Pole expedition, which left Akaroa a 
few weeks ago, and the character of some of the remnants 
(being vital parts of a ship's structure] lead to the inference 
that the vessel herself must have foundered." 

"Well, well," said the old clergyman, with his mouth full 
of buttered toast. 

The walls of the room seemed to be moving around me. 
I could scarcely see; I could scarcely hear. 

"Naturally there can be no absolute certainty that the 
'Scotia' may not be still afloat, or that the members of the ex- 
pedition may not have reached a place of safety, but the pres- 
ence of large pieces of ice attached to some of the fragments 
seem to the best authorities to favour the theory that the unfor- 
tunate vessel was struck by one of the huge icebergs which have 
lately been floating up from the direction of the Admiralty 
Mountains, and in that case her fate will probably remain one 
of the many insoluble mysteries of the ocean." 

"Now that's what one might call the irony of fate," said 
the old clergyman, "seeing that the object of the expe- 
dition ..." 

"Hush!" 

"While the sympathy of the public will be extended to the 
families of all the explorers who have apparently perished in u 
brave effort to protect mankind from one of the worst dangers 
of the great deep, the entire world will mourn the loss (as we 
fear it may be) of the heroic young Commander, Doctor 
Martin Conrad, who certainly belonged to the ever-diminishing 
race of dauntless and intrepid souls who seem to be born with 
that sacred courage which leads men to render up their lives 
at the lure of the Unknown and the call of a great idea." 



I BECOME A MOTHER 369 

I felt as if I were drowning. At one moment there was 
the shrieking of waves about my face ; at the next the rolling 
of billows over my head. 

"Though it seems only too certain . . . this sacred 
courage quenched . . . let us. not think such lives as his 
are wasted . . . only wasted lives . . . lives given up 
. . f . inglorious ease . . . pursuit of idle amusements. 
. . . Therefore let loved ones left behind . . . take com- 
fort . . . inspiring thought . . . if lost . . . not died 
in vain. . . . Never pleasure but Death . . . the lure 
that draws true hearts. ..." 

I heard no more. The old colonel's voice, which had been 
beating on my brain like a hammer, seemed to die away in 
the distance. 

"How hard you are breathing. What is amiss?" said our 
landlady. 

I made no reply. Rising to my feet I became giddy and 
held on to the table cloth to prevent myself from falling. 

The landlady jumped up to protect her crockery and at the 
same moment the old actress led me from the room. I ex- 
cused myself on the ground of faintness, and the heat of the 
house after my quick walk home from the theatre. 

Back in my bedroom my limbs gave way and I sank to the 
floor with my head on the chair. There was no uncertainty 
for me now. It was all over. The great love which had 
engrossed my life had gone. 

In the overwhelming shock of that moment I could not 
think of the world 's loss. I could not even think of Martin 's. 
I could only think of my own, and once more I felt as if 
something of myself had been torn out of my breast. 

"Why? Why?" I was crying in the depths of my heart 
why, when I was so utterly alone, so helpless and so friend- 
less, had the light by which I lived been quenched. 

After a while the gong sounded for dinner. I got up and 
lay on the bed. The young waiter brought up some dishes on 
a tray. I sent them down again. Then tune passed and 
again I heard voices on the floor below. 

"Rouerh on that young peeress if Conrad has gone down, 
eh?" 

"What peeress?" 

"Don't you remember the one who ran away from that 
reprobate Raa?" 

2A 



370 THE WOMAN THOU GAYEST ME 

"Ah, yes, certainly. I remember now." 

"Of course, Conrad was the man pointed at, and perhaps 
if he had lived to come back he might have stood up for the 
poor thing, but now ..." 

"Ah, well, that's the way, you see." 

The long night passed. 

Sometimes it seemed to go with feet of lead, sometimes 
with galloping footsteps. I remember that the clocks outside 
seemed to strike every few minutes, and then not to strike at 
all. At one moment I heard the bells of a neighbouring 
church ringing merrily, and by that I knew it was Christmas 
morning. 

I did not sleep during the first hours of night, but some- 
where in the blank reaches of that short space between night 
and day (like the slack-water between ebb and flow), which 
is the only time when London rests, I fell into a troubled doze. 

I wish I had not done so, for at the first moment of re- 
turning consciousness I had that sense, so familiar to be- 
reaved ones, of memory rushing over me like a surging tide. 
I did not cry, but I felt as if my heart were bleeding. 

The morning dawned dark and foggy. In the thick air of 
my room the window looked at me like a human eye scaled 
with cataract. It was my first experience of a real London 
fog and I was glad of it. If there had been one ray of sun- 
shine that morning I think my heart would have broken. 

The cockney chambermaid came with her jug of hot water 
and wished me "a merry Christmas." I did my best to 
answer her. 

The young waiter came with my breakfast. I told him to 
set it down, but I did not touch it. 

Then the cockney chambermaid came back to make up my 
room and, finding me still in bed, asked if I would like a fire. 
I answered "Yes," and while she was lighting a handful 
between the two bars of my little grate she talked of the news 
in the newspaper. 

"It don't do to speak no harm of the dead, but as to then* 
men as 'ad a collusion with a iceberg in the Australier sea, 
serve 'em jolly well right I say. What was they a-doing 
down there, risking their lives for nothing, when they ought 
to have been a-thinking of their wives and children. My 
Tom wanted to go for a sailor, but I wouldn't let him! Not 
me! 'If you're married to a sailor,' says I, ' 'alf your time 
you never knows whether you 'as a 'usband or 'asn't.' 'Talk 



I BECOME A MOTHER 371 

sense,' says Tom. 'I am a-talking sense,' says I, 'and then 
think of the kiddies,' I says." 

After a while I got up and dressed and sat long hours be- 
fore the fire. I tried to think of others beside myself who 
must be suffering from the same disaster especially of 
Martin's mother and the good old doctor. I pictured the 
sweet kitchen-parlour in Sunny Lodge, with the bright silver 
bowls on the high mantelpiece. There was no fire under 
the slouree now. The light of that house was out, and two 
old people were sitting on either side of a cold hearth. 

I passed in review my maidenhood, my marriage, and my 
love, and told myself that the darkest days of my loneliness 
in London had hitherto been. relieved by one bright hope. I 
had only to live on and Martin would come back to me. But 
now I was utterly alone. I was in the presence of nothing- 
ness. The sanctuary within me where Martin had lived was 
only a cemetery of the soul. 

"Why? Why? Why?" I cried again, but there was no 
answer. 

Thus I passed my Christmas Day (for which I had formed 
such different plans), and I hardly knew if it was for 
punishment or warning that I was at last compelled to think 
of something besides my own loss. 

My unborn child! 

No man on earth can know anything about that tragic 
prospect, though millions of women must have had to face it. 
To have a child coming that is doomed before its birth to be 
fatherless there is nothing in the world like that. 

I think the bitterest part of my grief was that nobody 
could ever know. If Martin had lived he would have leapt 
to acknowledge his offspring in spite of all the laws and con- 
ventions of life. But being dead he could not be charged 
with it. Therefore the name of the father of my unborn 
child must never, never, never be disclosed. 

The thickening. of the fog told me that the day was passing. 

It passed. The houses on the opposite side of the square 
vanished in a vaporous, yellow haze, and their lighted 
windows were like rows of bloodshot eyes looking out of the 
blackness. 

Except the young waiter and the chambermaid nobody 
visited me until a little before dinner time. Then the old 
actress came up, rather fantastically dressed (with a kind of 
laurel crown on her head), to say that the boarders were 



372 

going to have a dance and wished me to join them. I ex- 
cused myself on the ground of headache, and she said: 

"Young women often suffer from it. It's a pity, though! 
Christmas night, too!" 

Not long after she had gone, I heard, through the frequent 
tooting of the taxis in the street, the sound of old-fashioned 
waltzes being played on the piano, and then a dull thudding 
noise on the floor below, mingled with laughter, which told 
me that the old boarders were dancing. 

I dare say my head was becoming light. I had eaten noth- 
ing for nearly forty hours, and perhaps the great shock which 
chance had given me had brought me near to the blank 
shadowland which is death. 

I remember that in some vague way there arose before me 
a desire to die. It was not to be suicide my religion saved 
me from that but death by exhaustion, by continuing to 
abstain from food, having no desire for it. 

Martin was gone what was there to live for? Had I not 
better die before my child came to life! And if I could go 
where Martin was I should be with him eternally. 

Stall I did not weep, but whether audibly or only in the 
unconscious depths of my soul more than once I cried to 
Martin by name. 

"Martin! Martin! I am coming to you!" 

I was in this mood (sitting in my chair as I had done 
all day and staring into the small slow fire which was slip- 
ping to the bottom of the grate) when I heard a soft step in 
the corridor outside. At the next moment my door was 
opened noiselessly, and somebody stepped into the room. 

It was Mildred, and she knelt by my side and said in a low 
voice: 

"You are in still deeper trouble, Mary tell me.'* 

I tried to pour out my heart to her as to a mother, but 
I could not do so, and indeed there was no necessity. The 
thought that must have rushed into my eyes was instantly 
reflected in hers. 

"It is he, isn't it?" she whispered, and I could only bow 
my head. 

"I thought so from the first," she said. "And now you 
are thinking of ... of what is to come?" 

Again I could only bow, but Mildred put her arms about 
me and said: 



I BECOME A MOTHER 373 

"Don't lose heart, dear. Our Blessed Lady sent me to 
take eare of you. And I will I wilL" 

MEMORANDUM BY MARTIN CONRAD 

Surely Chance must be the damnedest conspirator against 
human happiness, or my darling could never have been al- 
lowed to suffer so much from the report that my ship was lost. 

What actually happened is easily told. 

Two days after we left Akaroa, NJ2., which was the last 
we saw of the world before we set our faces towards the 
Unknown, we ran into a heavy lumpy sea and made bad 
weather of it for forty-eight hours. 

Going at good speed, however, we proceeded south on 
meridian 179 degrees E., latitude 68, when (just as we were 
sighting the Admiralty Mountains, our first glimpse of the 
regions of the Pole) we encountered a south-westerly gale, 
which, with our cumbersome deck cargo, made the handling 
of the ship difficult. 

Nevertheless the Scotia rode bravely for several hours over 
the mountainous seas, though sometimes she rolled fifty de- 
grees from side to side. 

Towards nightfall we shipped a good deal of water ; the sea 
smashed in part of our starboard bulwarks, destroyed the 
upper deck, washed out the galley, carried off two of our life 
boats and sent other large fragments of the vessel floating 
away to leeward. 

At last the pumps became choked, and the water found its 
way to the engine-room. So to prevent further disaster we 
put out the fires, and then started, all hands, to bale out with 
buckets. 

It was a sight to see every man- jack at work on that job 
(scientific staff included), and you would not have thought 
out spirits were much damped, whatever our bodies may have 
been, if you had been there when I cried, "Are we down- 
hearted, shipmates?" and heard the shout that came up from 
fifty men (some of them waist deep in the water) : 

"No!" 

We had a stiff tussle until after midnight, but we stuck 
hard, and before we turned into our bunks, we had fought 
the sea and beaten it. 

Next morning broke fine and clear, with that fresh crisp air 
of the Antarctic which is the same to the explorer as the sniff 



374 THE WOMAN THOU GAVEST ME 

of battle to the warhorse, and no sign of the storm except 
the sight of some dead-white icebergs which had been torn 
from the islands south-west of us. 

Everybody was in high spirits at breakfast, and when one 
of the company started "Sweethearts and Wives" all hands 
joined in the chorus, and (voice or no voice) I had a bit of a 
go at it myself. 

It is not the most solemn music ever slung together, but 
perhaps no anthem sung in a cathedral has ascended to 
heaven with a heartier spirit of thanksgiving. 

When I went up on deck again, though, I saw that enough 
of our "wooden walls" had gone overboard to give "scarey 
people" the impression (if things were ever picked up, as I 
knew they would be, for the set of the current was to the 
north-east) that we had foundered, and that made me think 
of my dear one. 

We had no wireless aboard, and the ship would not be 
going back to New Zealand until March, so I was helpless to 
correct the error; but I determined that the very first mes- 
sage from the very first station I set up on the Antarctic con- 
tinent should be sent to her to say that I was safe and every- 
thing going splendid. 

What happened on Christmas day is a longer story. 

On the eighteenth of December, having landed some of my 
deck cargo and provisions, and sent up my ship to winter 
quarters, I was on my way, with ponies, dogs, and sledges and 
a large company of men, all in Al condition, to the lower 
summit of Mount Erebus, for I intended to set up my first 
electric-power-wave station there that being high enough, 
we thought, to permit of a message reaching the plateau of the 
Polar zone and low enough (allowing for the curvature of the 
earth) to cover the maximum distance in a northerly direction. 

It was a long reach, but we chose the rocky ridges and 
moraines, trying to avoid the crevassed glaciers, and all 
went well until the twentieth, when just as we were reaching 
the steeper gradients a strong wind sprang up, blowing 
straight down the course before us. 

All day long we toiled against it, but the weather grew 
worse, with gusts of sleet and snow, until the wind reached 
the force of a hurricane and the temperature fell to 28 
degrees below zero. 

There was nothing to do but to wait for the blizzard to 
blow itself out, so we plugged down our tents in the shelter of 



I BECOME A MOTHER 375 

the rocky side of a ravine that had an immense snow-field 
behind it. 

The first night was bad enough, for the canvas of one 
tent flew into ribbons, and the poor chaps in it had to lie 
uncovered in their half-frozen sleeping-bags until morning. 

All through the twenty-first, twenty-second, and twenty- 
third the storm continued, sweeping with terrific force down 
the ravine, and whirling the snow in dense masses from the 
snow-field overhead. 

Christmas Eve was worse, with the temperature down to 
38 degrees below zero and the wind up to eighty miles an 
hour in gusts, and during the greater part of Christmas Day 
we were all confined to our sleeping-bags and half buried in 
the snow that had drifted in on us. 

As a consequence we had no religious service, and if any- 
body said a De Profundis it was between his crackling lips 
under his frozen beard. We had no Christmas dinner 
either, except a few Plasmon biscuits and a nip of brandy 
and water, which were served out by good old 'Sullivan, 
who had come with me as doctor to the expedition. 

On St. Stephen's Day I made a round of the camp and 
found the ponies suffering terribly and the dogs badly hit. 
The storm was telling on the men too, for some of them were 
down with dysentery, and the toes of one poor chap were 
black from frostbite. 

I was fit enough myself, thank God, but suffering from 
want of sleep or rather from a restless feeling which broken 
sleep brought with it. 

The real truth is that never since I sailed had I been able 
to shake off the backward thought that I ought not to have 
left my dear one behind me. In active work, like the gale, 
I could dismiss the idea of her danger; but now that I had 
nothing to do but to lie like a log in a sleeping-bag, I suffered 
terribly from my recollection of her self-sacrifice and my 
fear of the consequences that might come of it. 

This was not so bad in the daytime, for even in the midst 
of the whirling snow and roaring wind I had only to close 
my eyes, and I could see her as she came up the road in the 
sunshine that Sunday morning when she was returning from 
church in her drooping hat and fluttering veil, or as she 
looked at me with her great "seeing eyes" at the last moment 
of all when she compelled me to come away. 

But the night was the devil. No sooner did I drop off to 



376 THE WOMAN THOU GAYEST ME 

sleep than I awoke with a start at the sound of her voice 
calling me by my name. 

"Martin! Martin!" 

It was always a voice of distress, and though I am no 
dreamer and I think no crank, I could not get away from 
the idea that she was crying to me to come back. 

That was about the one thing in the world that was im- 
possible to me now, and yet I knew that getting assurance 
from somewhere that my dear one was being cared for was 
the only way to set my mind at rest for the job that was 
before me. 

It may seem ridiculous that I should have thought of that, 
but everybody who has ever been with Nature in her mighty 
solitudes, aloof from the tides of life, knows that the soul of 
man is susceptible down there to signs which would seem 
childish amid the noise and bustle of the world. 

It was like that with me. 

I shared my tent with 'Sullivan, the chief of our scien- 
tific staff, and Treacle, who thought it his duty to take care of 
me, though the work was generally the other way about. 

The old salt had been badly battered, and I had not liked 
the way he had been mumbling about "mother," which is not 
a good sign in a stalwart chap when his strength is getting 
low. 

So while buttoning up the tent on the night after Christmas 
Day I was a bit touched up to see old Treacle, who had lived 
the life of a rip, fumbling at his breast and hauling some- 
thing out with an effort. 

It was a wooden image of the Virgin (about the length of 
my hand) daubed over with gilt and blue paint, and when he 
stuck it up in front of his face as he lay in his sleeping-bag, 
I knew that he expected to go out before morning, and 
wished that to be the last thing his old eyes should rest on. 

I am not much of a man for saints myself (having found 
that we get out of tight places middling well without them) , 
but perhaps what Treacle did got down into some secret place 
of my soul, for I felt calmer as I fell asleep, and when I 
awoke it was not from the sound of my darling's voice, but 
from a sort of deafening silence. 

The roaring of the wind had ceased ; the blizzard was over ; 
the lamp that hung from the staff of the tent had gone out; 
and there was a sheet of light coming in from an aperture 
in the canvas. 



I BECAME A MOTHER 377 

It was the midnight sun of the Antarctic, and when I 
raised my head I saw that it fell full on the little gilded image 
of the Virgin. Anybody who has never been where I was then 
may laugh if he likes and welcome, but that was enough for 
me. It was all right! Somebody was looking after my 
dear one! 

I shouted to my shipmates to get up and make ready, and 
at dawn, when we started afresh on our journey, there may 
have been dark clouds over our heads but the sun was shining 
inside of us. M. C. 

[END OF MARTIN CONRAD'S MEMORANDUM] 

EIGHTY-FOURTH CHAPTER 

SISTER MILDRED was right. Our Blessed Lady must have 
interceded for me, because help came immediately. 

I awoke on St. Stephen's morning with that thrilling 
emotion which every mother knows to be the first real and 
certain consciousness of motherhood. 

It is not for me to describe the physical effects of that 
great change. But the spiritual effect is another matter. 
It was like that of a miracle. God in His great mercy, look- 
ing down on me in my sorrow, had sent one of His minister- 
ing angels to comfort me. 

It seemed to say: 

"Don't be afraid. He who went away is not lost t you. 
Something of himself is about to return." 

I felt no longer that I was to be left alone in my prison- 
house of London, because Martin's child was to bear me 
company to be a link between us, an everlasting bond, so 
that he and I should be together to the end. 

I tremble to say what interpretation I put upon all this 
how it seemed to be a justification of what I did on the night 
before Martin left Elian, as if God, knowing he would not 
return, had prompted me, so that when my dark hour came 
I might have this great hope for my comforter. 

And oh how wonderful it was, how strange, how mys- 
terious, how joyful! 

Every day and all day and always I was conscious of my 
unborn child, as a fluttering bird held captive in the hand. 
The mystery and the joy of the coming life soothed away my 
sorrow, and if I had shed any tears they would have dried 
them. 



378 THE WOMAN THOU GAVEST ME 

And then the future! 

I seemed to know from the first that it was to be a girl, and 
already I could see her face and look into her sea-blue eyes. 
As she grew up I would talk to her of her father the brave 
explorer, the man of destiny, who laid down his life in a 
great work for the world. We should always be talking of 
him we two alone together, because he belonged to us and 
nobody else in the world besides. Everything I have written 
here I should tell her at least the beautiful part of it, the 
part about our love, which nothing in life, and not even 
death itself, could quench. 

Oh the joy of those days! It may seem strange that I 
should have been so happy so soon after my bereavement, but 
I cannot help it if it was so, and it was so. 

Perhaps it was a sort of hysteria, due to the great change 
in my physical condition. I do not know. I do D^t think I 
want to know. But one thing is sure that hope a^d prayer 
and the desire of life awoke in me again, as by the touch of 
God's own hand, and I became another and a happier woman. 

Such was the condition in which Mildred found me when 
she returned a few days later. Then she brought me down 
plump to material matters. We had first to consider the 
questions of ways and means, in order to find out how to f a>ce 
the future. 

It was the beginning of January, my appointed time was 
in June, and I had only some sixteen pounds of my money 
left, so it was clear that I could not stay in the boarding-house 
much longer. 

Happily Mildred knew of homes where women could live 
inexpensively during their period of waiting. They were 
partly philanthropic and therefore subject to certain regula- 
tions, which my resolute determination (not to mention 
Martin's name, or permit it to be mentioned) might make it 
difficult for me to observe, but Mildred hoped to find one 
that would take me on her recommendation without asking 
further question. 

In this expectation we set out in search of a Maternity 
Home. What a day of trial we had ! I shall never forget it. 

The first home we called at was a Catholic one in the 
neighbourhood of our boarding-house. 

It had the appearance of a convent, and that pleased me 
exceedingly. After we had passed the broad street door, with 
its large brass plate and small brass grille, we were shown 



I BECOME A MOTHER 379 

into a little waiting-room with tiled floor, distempered walls, 
and coloured pictures of the saints. 

The porteress told us the Mother was at prayers with the 
inmates, but would come downstairs presently, and while 
we waited we heard the dull hum of voices, the playing of an 
organ, and the singing of the sweet music I knew so well. 

Closing my eyes I felt myself back in Rome, and began to 
pray that I might be permitted to remain there. But the 
desire was damped when the Mother entered the room. 

She was a stout woman, wearing heavy outdoor boots and 
carrying her arms interlaced before her, with the hands hid- 
den in the ample sleeves of her habit, and her face was so 
white and expressionless, that it might have been cast in 
plaster of Paris. 

In a rather nervous voice Mildred explained our errand. 

"Mother," she said, "I cannot tell you anything about 
this young lady, and I have come to ask if you will take her 
on my recommendation." 

"My dear child," said the Mother, "that would be utterly 
against our rule. Not to know who the young lady is, where 
she comes from, why she is here, and whether she is married 
or single or a widow it is quite impossible." 

Mildred, looking confused and ashamed, said: 

"She can afford to pay a little." 

"That makes no difference." 

"But I thought that in exceptional cases ..." 

"There can be no exceptional cases, Sister. If the young 
lady is married and can say that her husband consents, or 
single and can give us assurance that her father or guardian 
agrees, or a widow and can offer satisfactory references ..." 

Mildred looked across at me, but I shook my head. 

"In that case there seems to be nothing more to say," said 
the Mother, and rising without ceremony she walked with us 
to the door. 

Our next call was at the headquarters of a home which 
was neither Catholic nor Protestant, but belonged, Mildred 
said, to a kind of Universal Church, admitting inmates of all 
denominations. 

It was in a busy thoroughfare and had the appearance of a 
business office. After Mildred had written her name and 
the object of our visit on a slip of paper we were taken up in 
a lift to another office with an open safe, where a man in 



380 THE WOMAN THOU GAVEST ME 

a kind of uniform (called a Commissioner) was signing let- 
ters and cheques. 

The Commissioner was at first very courteous, especially to 
me, and I had an uncomfortable feeling that he was mistaking 
me for something quite other than I was until Mildred ex- 
plained our errand, and then his manner changed painfully. 

"What you ask is against all our regulations," he said. 
' ' Secrecy implies something to hide, and we neither hide any- 
thing nor permit anything to be hidden. In fact our system 
requires that we should not only help the woman, but punish 
the man by making him realise his legal, moral, and religious 
liability for his wrong-doing. Naturally we can only do this 
by help of the girl, and if she does not tell us at the outset 
who and what the partner of her sin has been and where 
he is to be found ..." 

I was choking with shame and indignation, and rising to 
my feet I said to Mildred: 

''Let us go, please." 

"Ah, yes, I know," said the Commissioner, with a superior 
smile, "I have seen all this before. The girl nearly always 
tries to shield the guilty man. But why should she ? It may 
seem generous, but it is really wicked. It is a direct means 
of increasing immorality. The girl who protects the author 
of her downfall is really promoting the ruin of another 
woman, and if ..." 

Thinking of Martin I wanted to strike the smug Pharisee 
in the face, and in order to conquer that unwomanly impulse 
I hurried out of the office, and into the street, leaving poor 
Mildred to follow me. 

Our last call was at the home of a private society in a little 
brick house that seemed to lean against the wall of a large 
lying-in hospital in the West End of London. 

At the moment of our arrival the Matron was presiding 
in the drawing-room over a meeting of a Missionary League 
for the Conversion of the Jews, so we were taken through a 
narrow lobby into a little back-parlour which overlooked, 
through a glass screen, a large apartment, wherein a number 
of young women, who had the appearance of dressmakers, 
ladies' maids, and governesses, were sewing tiny pieces of 
linen and flannel that were obviously baby-clothes. 

There were no carpets on the floors and the house had a 
slight smell of carbolic. The tick-tick of sewing machines 



I BECOME A MOTHER 381 

on ihe other side of the screen mingled with the deadened 
sound of the clapping of hands in the room overhead. 

After a while there was rustle of dresses coming down the 
bare stairs, followed by the opening and closing of the front 
door, and then the Matron came into the parlour. 

She was a very tall, flat-bosomed woman in a plain black 
dress, and she seemed to take in our situation instantly. 
Without waiting for Mildred's explanation she began to ask 
my name, my age, and where I came from. 

Mildred fenced these questions as well as she could, and 
then, with even more nervousness than ever, made the same 
request as before. 

The Matron seemed aghast. 

"Most certainly not," she said. "My committee would 
never dream of such a thing. In the interests of the unfor- 
tunate girls who have fallen from the path of virtue, as well 
as their still more unfortunate offspring, we always make the 
most searching inquiries. In fact, we keep a record of every 
detail of every case. Listen to this," she added, and opening 
a large leather-bound book like a ledger, she began to read 
one of its entries: 

"H. J., aged eighteen years, born of very respectable 
parents, was led astray [that was not the word] in a lonely 
road very late at night by a sailor who was never afterwards 
heard of . . . " 

But I could bear no more, and rising from my seat I fled 
from the room and the house into the noisy street outside. 

All clay long my whole soul had been in revolt. It seemed 
to me that, while God in His gracious mercy was giving me 
my child to comfort and console me, to uplift and purify me, 
and make me a better woman than I had been before, man, 
with his false and cruel morality, with his machine-made 
philanthropy, was trying to use it as a whip to punish not 
only me but Martin. 

But that it should never do! Never as long as I lived! I 
would die in the streets first! 

Perhaps I was wrong, and did not understand myself, and 
certainly Mildred did not understand me. When she rejoined 
me in the street we turned our faces homeward and were 
half way back to the boarding-house before we spoke again. 

Then she said: 



382 THE WOMAN THOU GAVEST ME 

"I am afraid the other institutions will be the same. 
They'll all want references." 

I answered that they should never get them. 

"But your money will be done soon, my child, and then 
what is to become of you?" 

"No matter!" I said, for I had already determined to 
face the world myself without help from anybody. 

There was a silence again until we reached the door of 
our boarding-house, and then Mildred said: 

"Mary, your father is a rich man, and however much you 
may have displeased him he cannot wish you to be left to the 
mercy of the world especially when your tune comes. Let 
me write to him ..." 

That terrified me, for I saw only one result an open 
quarrel between my father and my husband about the legiti- 
macy of my child, who would probably be taken away from 
me as soon as it was born. 

So taking Mildred by the arm, regardless of the observa- 
tion of passers-by, I begged and prayed and implored of her 
not to write to my father. 

She promised not to do so, and we parted on good terms; 
but I was not satisfied, and the only result of our day's 
journeying was that I became possessed of the idea that the 
whole world was conspiring to rob me of my unborn child. 

A few days later Mildred called again, and then she said: 

"I had another letter from Father Donovan this morning, 
Mary. Your poor priest is broken-hearted about you. He 
is sure you are in London, and certain you are in distress, 
and says that with or without his Bishop's consent he is com- 
ing up to London to look for you, and will never go back 
until you are found." 

I began to suspect Mildred. In the fever of my dread of 
losing my child I convinced myself that with the best in- 
tentions in the world, merely out of love for me and pity for 
my position, she would give me up perhaps in the very hour 
of my peril. 

To make this impossible I determined to cut myself off 
from her and everybody else, by leaving the boarding-house 
and taking another and cheaper lodging far enough away. 

I was encouraged in this course by the thought of my 
diminishing resources, and though heaven knows I had not 
too many comforts where I was, I reproached ^myself for spend- 



1 BECOME A MOTHER 383 

ing so much on my own needs when I ought to be economis- 
ing for the coming of my child. 

The end of it all was that one morning early I went down 
to the corner of Oxford Street where the motor-omnibuses 
seem to come and go from all parts of London. 

North, south, east, and west were all one to me, leading to 
labyrinths of confused and interminable streets, and I knew 
as little as a child which of them was best for my purpose. 
But chance seems to play the greatest part in our lives, and 
at that moment it was so with me. 

I was standing on the edge of the pavement when a motor- 
bus labelled "Bayswater Road" stopped immediately in 
front of me and I stepped into it, not knowing in the least 
why I did so. 

Late that evening, having found what I wanted, I returned 
in the mingled mist and darkness to the boarding-house to 
pack up my belongings. That was not difficult to do, and 
after settling my account and sending young John for a cab 
I was making for the door when the landlady came up to me. 

"Will you not leave your new address, my dear, lest any- 
body should call," she said. 

"Nobody will call," I answered. 

"But in case there should be letters?" 

"There will be no letters," I said, and whispering to the 
driver to drive up Oxford Street, I got into the cab. 

It was then quite dark. The streets and shops were alight, 
and I remembered that as I crossed the top of the Charing 
Cross Road I looked down in the direction of the lofty build- 
ing in which Mildred's window would be shining like a light- 
house over Piccadilly. 

Poor dear ill-requited Mildred! She has long ago for- 
given me. She knows now that when I ran away from the 
only friend I had in London it was because I could not help it. 

She knows, too, that I was not thinking of myself, and that 
in diving still deeper into the dungeon of the great city, in 
hiding and burying myself away in it, I was asking nothing 
of God but that He would let me live the rest of my life 
no matter how poor and lonely with the child that He was 
sending to be a living link between my lost one and me. 

In the light of what happened afterwards, that was all so 
strange, and oh, so wonderful and miraculous! 



384 THE WOMAN THOU GAYEST ME 

EIGHTY-FIFTH CHAPTER 

MY new quarters were in the poorer district which stands at 
the back of Bayswater. 

The street was a cul-de-sac (of some ten small houses on 
either side) which was blocked up at the further end by the 
high wall of a factory for the " humanization " of milk, and 
opened out of a busy thoroughfare of interior shops like a 
gully-way off a noisy coast. 

My home in this street was in number one, and I had 
been attracted to it by a printed card in the semi-circular 
fan-light over the front door, saying: "A ROOM TO LET 
FURNISHED. ' ' 

My room, which was of fair size, was on the first floor and 
had two windows to the street, with yellow holland blinds 
and white muslin curtains. 

The furniture consisted of a large bed, a horse-hair sofa, 
three cane-bottomed chairs, a chest of drawers (which stood 
between the windows), and a mirror over the mantelpiece, 
which had pink paper, cut into fanciful patterns, over the 
gilt frame, to keep off the flies. 

The floor was covered with linoleum, but there were two 
strips of carpet, one before the fire and the other by the bed ; 
the walls were papered with a bright red paper represent- 
ing peonies in bloom; and there were three pictures a por- 
trait of a great Welsh preacher with a bardic name 
("Dyfed"), an engraving entitled "Feed my Sheep" 
(showing Jesus carrying a lamb), and a memorial card of 
some member of the family of the house, in the form of a 
tomb with a weeping angel on either side. 

I paid five shilling a week for my room, and, as this in- 
cluded the use of kettle, cooking utensils, and crockery, I 
found to my great delight at the end of the first week that 
providing for myself (tea, bread and butter, and eggs being 
my principal food) I had only spent ten shillings altogether, 
which, according to my present needs, left me enough for my 
time of waiting and several weeks beyond. 

Every morning I went out with a little hand-bag to buy 
my provisions in the front street ; and every af tern oon I 
took a walk in the better part of Bayswater and even into 
the Park (Hyde Park), which was not far off, but never 
near Piccadilly, or so far east as Bloomsbury, lest I should 
meet Sister Mildred or be recognized by the old boarders. 

I had no key to my lodgings, but when I returned home I 



I BECOME A MOTHER 385 

knocked at the front door (which was at the top of a short 
flight of steps from the pavement) and then a string was 
pulled in the cellar-kitchen in which the family of my land- 
lady lived, whereupon the bolt was shot back and the door 
opened of itself. 

Finding it necessary to account for myself here as at the 
boarding-house, I had adhered to my former name, but said I 
was the widow of a commander lately lost at sea, which was as 
near to the truth as I dared venture. 

I had also made no disguise of the fact that I was expecting 
a child, a circumstance which secured me much sympathy from 
the kind-hearted souls who were now my neighbours. 

They were all womanly women, generally the wives of men 
working in the milk factory, and therefore the life of our 
street was very regular. 

At five in the morning you heard the halting step of the old 
"knocker up," who went up and down the street tapping at 
the bedroom windows with a long pole like a fishing-rod. A 
little before six you heard the clashing of many front doors 
and the echoing footsteps of the men going to their work. At 
half -past seven you heard the whoop of the milkman and the 
rattling of his cans. At half-past eight you heard the little 
feet of the children, like the pattering of rain, going off to the 
Board School round the corner. And a little after four in 
the afternoon you heard the wild cries of the juvenile com- 
munity let loose from lessons, the boys trundling iron hoops 
and the girls skipping to a measured tune over a rope stretched 
from parapet to parapet. 

After that, our street hummed like a bee-hive, with the 
women, washed and combed, standing knitting at their open 
doors or exchanging confidences across the areas until darkness 
fell and each of the mothers called her children into bed, as an 
old hen in the farmyard clucks up her chickens. 

These good creatures were very kind to me. Having satisfied 
themselves from observation of my habits that I was ' ' respect- 
able," they called me "our lady"; and I could not help hear- 
ing that I was "a nice young thing," though it was a little 
against me that I did not go to church or chapel, and had 
confessed to being a Catholic for several of our families 
(including that of my landlady) were members of the Welsh 
Zion Chapel not far away. 

Such was the life of the little human cage to which I had 

2B 



386 THE WOMAN THOU GAVEST ME 

confined myself, but I had an inner life that was all my own 
and very sweet to me. 

During the long hours of every day in which I was alone I 
occupied myself in the making of clothes for my baby buying 
linen and flannel and worsted, and borrowing patterns from 
my Welsh landlady. 

This stimulated my tenderness towards the child that was to 
come, for the heart of a young mother is almost infantile, and 
I hardly know whether to laugh or cry when I think of the 
childish things I did and thought and said to myself in those 
first days when I was alone in my room in that back street 
in Bayswater. 

Thus long before baby was born I had christened her. At 
first I wished to call her Mary, not because I cared for that 
name myself, but because Martin had said it was the most 
beautiful in the world. In the end, however, I called her 
Isabel Mary (because Isabel was my mother's name and she 
had been a far better woman than I was), and as I finished my 
baby's garments one by one I used to put them away in their 
drawer, saying to myself, "That's Isabel Mary's binder," or 
"Isabel Mary's christening-robe" as the case might be. 

I dare say it was all very foolish. There are tears in my 
eyes when I think of it now, but there were none then, for 
though there were moments when, remembering Martin, I felt 
as if life were for ever blank, I was almost happy in my poor 
surroundings, and if it was a cage I had fixed myself in there 
was always a bird singing inside of it the bird that sang in 
my own bosom. 

"When Isabel Mary comes everything will be all right," I 
used to think. 

This went on for many weeks and perhaps it might have 
gone on until my time was full but for something which, 
occurring under my eyes, made me tremble with the fear that 
the life I was living and the hope I was cherishing were really 
very wrong and selfish. 

Of my landlady, Mrs. Williams, I saw little. She was a 
rather hard but no doubt heavily-laden woman, who had to 
' ' do " for a swarm of children, besides two young men lodgers 
who lived in the kitchen and slept in the room behind mine. 
Her husband was a quiet man (a carter at the dairy) whom I 
never saw at all except on the staircase at ten o'clock at night, 
when, after winding the tall clock on the landing, he went 
upstairs to bed in his stocking feet. 



I BECOME A MOTHER 387 

But the outstanding member of the family for me was a 
shock-headed girl of fourteen called Emmerjane, which was a 
running version of Emma Jane. 

I understood that Emmerjane was the illegitimate daughter 
of Mrs. "Williams 's dead sister, and that she had been born 
in Carnarvon, which still shimmered in her memory in purple 
and gold. 

Emmerjane was the drudge of the family, and I first saw 
her in the street at dusk, mothering a brood of her little 
cousins, taking Hughie by one hand and Katie by the other 
and telling Gwennie to lay hold of Davie lest he should be run 
over by the milk vans. 

Afterwards she became my drudge also washing my floor, 
bringing up my coals, and cleaning my grate, for sixpence a 
week, and giving me a great deal of information about my 
neighbours for nothing. 

Thus she told me, speaking broad cockney with a "Welsh 
accent, that the people opposite were named Wagstaffe and 
that the creaking noise I heard was that of a mangle, which 
Mrs. Wagstaffe had to keep because her husband was a 
drunkard, who stole her money and came home "a-Saturday 
nights, when the public-houses turned out, and beat her 
somethink shocking" though she always forgave him the next 
day and then the creaking went on as before. 

But the greatest interest of this weird little woman, who had 
a premature knowledge of things a child ought not to know, 
was in a house half-way down the street on the other side, 
where steam was always coming from the open door to the 
front kitchen. 

The people who lived there were named Jones. Mrs. Jones 
"washed" and had a bed-ridden old mother (with two shil- 
lings from the Guardians) and a daughter named Maggie. 

Maggie Jones, who was eighteen, and very pretty, used to 
work in the dairy, but the foreman had "tiken advantage of 
her" and she had just had a baby. 

This foreman was named Owen Owens and he lived at the 
last number on our side, where two unmarried sisters "kept 
house" for him and sat in the "singing seat" at Zion. 

Maggie thought it was the sisters' fault that Owen Owens 
did not marry her, so she conceived a great scheme for 
"besting" them, and this was the tragedy which, through 
Emmerjane 's quick little eyes and her cockney- Welsh tongue, 
came to me in instalments day by day. 



388 THE WOMAN THOU GAVEST ME 

When her baby was a month old Maggie dressed it up ; ' fine ' ' 
and took it to the photographers for its ' ' card di visit. ' ' The 
photographs were a long time coming, but when they came 
they were "heavenly lovely" and Maggie "cried to look at 
them." 

Then she put one in an envelope and addressed it to Owen 
Owens, and though it had only to cross the street, she went out 
after dark to a pillar-box a long way off lest anybody should 
see her posting it. 

Next day she said, ' ' He '11 have it now, for he always comes 
home to dinner. He '11 take it up to his bedroom, look you, and 
stand it on the washstand, and if either of those sisters touch 
it he '11 give them what 's what. ' ' 

After that she waited anxiously for an acknowledgment, and 
every time the postman passed down our street her pretty pale 
face would be at the door, saying, ' ' Anything for me to-day ? ' ' 
or "Are you sure there's nothing for me, postman?" 

At length a letter came, and Maggie Jones trembled so 
much that she dared not open it, but at last she tripped up to 
her room to be "all of herself," and then . . . then there was 
a "wild screech," and when Emmerjane ran upstairs Maggie 
was stretched out on the floor in a dead faint, clutching in her 
tight hand the photograph which Owen Owens had returned 
with the words, written in his heavy scrawl across the face 
Maggie Jones's bastard. 

It would be impossible to say how this incident affected me. 
I felt as if a moral earthquake had opened under my feet. 

What had I been doing? In looking forward to the child 
that was to come to me I had been thinking only of my own 
comfort my own consolation. 

But what about the child itself? 

If my identity ever became known and it might at any 
moment, by the casual recognition of a person in the street- 
how should the position of my child differ from that of this 
poor girl? 

A being born out of the pale of the law, as my husband 
would say it must be, an outcast, a thing of shame, without a 
father to recognise it, and with its mother's sin to lash its 
back for ever! 

When I thought of that, much as I had longed for the child 
that was to be a living link between Martin and me, I asked 
myself if I had any right to wish for it. 

I felt I had no right, and that considering my helpless 



I BECOME A MOTHER 389 

position the only true motherly love was to pray that my baby 
might be still-born. 

But that was too hard. It was too terrible. It was like 
a second bereavement. I could not and would not do it. 

"Never, never, never!" I told myself. 

EIGHTY-SIXTH CHAPTER 

THINKING matters out in the light of Maggie Jones's story, I 
concluded that poverty was at the root of nearly everything. 
If I could stave off poverty no real harm could come to my 
child. 

I determined to do so. But there was only one way open 
to me at present and that was to retrench my expenses. 

I did retrench them. Persuading myself that I had no real 
need of this and that, I reduced my weekly outlay. 

This gave me immense pleasure, and even when I saw, after 
a while, that I was growing thin and pale, I felt no self-pity of 
any sort, remembering that I had nobody to look well for now, 
and only the sweet and glorious duty before me of providing 
for my child. 

I convinced myself, too, that my altered appearance was 
natural to my condition, and that all I needed was fresh air 
and exercise, therefore I determined to walk every day in 
the Park. 

I did so once only. 

It was one of those lovely mornings in early spring, when 
the air and the sky of London, after the long fog and grime 
of winter, seem to be washed by showers of sunshine. 

I had entered by a gate to a broad avenue and was resting 
(for I was rather tired) on a seat under a chestnut tree whose 
glistening sheaths were swelling and breaking into leaf, when 
I saw a number of ladies and gentlemen on horseback coming 
in my direction. 

I recognised one of them instantly. It was Mr. Vivian, and 
a beautiful girl was riding beside him. My heart stood still, 
for I thought he would see me. But he was too much occupied 
with his companion to do so. 

"Yes, by Jove, it's killing, isn't it?" he said, in his shrill 
voice, and with his monocle in his mole-like eye, he rode past 
me, laughing. 

After that I took my walks in the poorer streets behind 
Bayswater, but there I was forced back on my old problem, 
for I seemed to be always seeing the sufferings of children. 



390 THE WOMAN THOU GAVEST ME 

Thank God, children as a whole are happy. They seem 
to live in their hearts alone, and I really and truly believe 
that if all the doors of the rich houses of the West End of 
London were thrown open to the poor children of the East 
End they would stay in their slums and alleys. 

But some of them suffer there for all that, especially the 
unfortunate ones who enter the world without any legal right 
to be here, and I seemed to be coming upon that kind every- 
where. 

One evening I saw a tiny boy of five sheltering from the 
rain under a dripping and draughty railway arch, and cry- 
ing as if his little heart would break. I tried to comfort him 
and could not, but when a rather shame-faced young woman 
came along, as if returning from her work, he burst out on 
her and cried : 

"Oh, muwer, she's been a-beating of me awrful. " 

"Never mind, Johnny," said the young woman, kneeling on 
the wet pavement to dry the child's eyes. "Don't cry, that's 
a good boy." 

It needed no second sight to look into the heart of that 
tragedy, and the effect of it upon me was to make me curtail 
my expenditure still further. 

Looking back on those days I cannot but wonder that I 
never tried to find employment. But there was one delicate 
impediment then my condition, which was becoming visible, 
I thought, to people in the street, and causing some of them, 
especially women, to look round at me. When this became 
painful I discontinued my walks altogether, and sent Emmer- 
jane on my few errands. 

Then my room became my world. 

I do not think I ever saw a newspaper. And knowing 
nothing of what was going on, beyond the surge and swell of 
the life of London as it came to me when I opened my window, 
I had now, more than ever, the sense of living in a dungeon on 
a rock in the middle of the sea. 

Having no exercise I ate less and less. But I found a 
certain joy in that, for I was becoming a miser for my child's 
sake, and the only pain I suffered was when I went to my 
drawer, as I did every day, and looked at my rapidly 
diminishing store. 

I knew that my Welsh landlady was beginning to call me 
close, meaning mean ; but that did not trouble me in the least, 
because I told myself that every penny I saved out of my 



I BECOME A MOTHER 391 

own expenses was for my child, to keep her from poverty and 
all the evils and injustices that followed in its train. 

As my appointed time drew near my sleep was much broken ; 
and sometimes in the middle of the night, when I heard a 
solitary footstep going down the street I would get up, draw 
aside one of my blinds, and see a light burning in some bed- 
room window opposite, and afterwards hear the muffled cry 
of the small new being who had come as another immigrant 
into our chill little world. 

But I made no arrangements for myself until my Welsh 
landlady came up to my room one day and asked if I had 
settled with a doctor. When I answered no, she held up her 
hands- and cried : 

"Good gracious! Just as I thought. Thee'st got to lose 
no time, though." , 

Happily there was a doctor in our street nearly every day, 
and if I wished it she would call him up to me. I agreed and 
the doctor came next morning. 

He was a tall, elderly man with cold eyes, compressed lips, 
and a sour expression, and neither his manner nor his speech 
gave any hint of a consciousness (which I am sure every true 
doctor must have) that in coming to a woman in my condition 
he was entering one of the sacred chambers of human life. 

He asked me a few abrupt questions, told me when he 
would come again, and then spoke about his fee. 

"My fee is a guinea and I usually get it in advance," he 
said, whereupon I went to my drawer, and took out a sov- 
ereign and a shilling, not without a certain pang at seeing so 
much go in a moment after I had been saving so long. 

The doctor had dropped the money into his waistcoat pocket 
with oh! such a casual air, and was turning to go, when my 
Welsh landlady said : 

"Her's not doing herself justice in the matter of food, 
doctor." 

' ' Why, what do you eat ? ' ' asked the doctor, and as well as 
I could, out of my dry and parched throat, I told him. 

"Tut! tut! This will never do," he said. "It's your 
duty to your child to have better food than that. Something 
light and nourishing every day, such as poultry, fish, chicken 
broth, beef-tea, and farinaceous foods generally." 

I gasped. What was the doctor thinking about? 

"Remember," he said, with his finger up, "the health of 
the child is intimately dependent on the health of the mother. 



392 THE WOMAN THOU GAYEST ME 

When the mother is in a morbid state it affects the compo- 
sition of the blood, and does great harm to the health of the 
offspring, both immediately and in after life. Don't forget 
now. Good day!" 

That was a terrible shock to me. In my great ignorance and 
great love I had been depriving myself for the sake of my 
child, and now I learned that I had all the time been doing it 
a grave and perhaps life-long injury! 

Trying to make amends I sent out for some of the expensive 
foods the doctor had ordered me, but when they were cooked 
I found to my dismay that I had lost the power of digesting 
them. 

My pain at this discovery w r as not lessened next day when 
my Welsh landlady brought up a nurse whom I had asked her 
to engage for me. 

The woman was a human dumpling with a discordant voice, 
and her first interest, like that of the doctor, seemed to centre 
in her fee. 

She told me that her usual terms were a guinea for the 
fortnight, but when she saw my face fall (for I could not help 
thinking how little I had left) she said: 

"Some ladies don't need a fortnight, though. Mrs. Wag- 
staffe, for instance, she never has no more than five days, 
and on the sixth she 's back at her mangle. So if five will do, 
ma'am, perhaps ten and six won't hurt you." 

I agreed, and the nurse was rolling her ample person out of 
my room when my Welsh landlady said: 

"But her's not eating enough to keep a linnet, look you." 

And then my nurse, who was what the doctor calls a croaker, 
began on a long series of stories of ladies who, having "let 
themselves down ' ' had died, either at childbirth or soon after- 
wards. 

"It's after a lady feels it if she has to nurse her baby," said 
the nurse, "and I couldn't be responsible neither for you 
nor the child if you don't do yourself justice." 

This was a still more terrible possibility the possibility 
that I might die and leave my child behind me. The thought 
haunted me all that day and the following night, but the 
climax came next morning, when Emmerjane, while black- 
leading my grate, gave me the last news of Maggie Jones. 

Maggie 's mother had been ' ' a-naggin ' of her to get work, ' ' 
asking if she had not enough mouths to feed "without her 
bringin' another." 



I BECOME A MOTHER 393 

Maggie had at first been afraid to look for employment, 
thinking everybody knew of her trouble. But after her 
mother had put the young minister from Zion on to her to 
tell her to be "obejent" she had gone out every day, whether 
the weather was good or bad or "mejum. " 

This had gone on for three months (during which Maggie 
used to stay out late because she was afraid to meet her 
mother's face) until one wet night, less than a week ago, she 
had come home drenched to the skin, taken to her bed, 
"sickened for somethink" and died. 

Three days after Emmerjane told me this story a great 
solemnity fell on our street. 

It was Saturday, when the children do not go to school, but, 
playing no games, they gathered in whispering groups round 
the house with the drawn blinds, while their mothers stood 
bareheaded at the doors with their arms under their aprons 
and their hidden hands over their mouths. 

I tried not to know what was going on, but looking out at the 
last moment I saw Maggie Jones's mother, dressed in black, 
coming down her steps, with her eyes very red and her hard 
face (which was seamed with labour) all wet and broken up. 

The "young minister" followed (a beardless boy who could 
have known nothing of the tragedy of a woman's life), and 
stepping into the midst of the group of the congregation from 
Zion, who had gathered there with their warm Welsh hearts 
full of pity for the dead girl, he gave out a Welsh hymn, 
and they sang it in the London street, just as they had been 
used to do at the cottage doors in the midst of their native 
mountains : 

"Bydd myrdd o ryfeddodau 
Ar doriad boreu wawr." 

I could look no longer, so I turned back into my room, but 
at the next moment I heard the rumble of wheels and knew 
that Maggie Jones was on her way to her last mother of all 
the Earth. 

During the rest of that day I could think of nothing but 
Maggie 's child, and what was to become of it, and next morn- 
ing when Emmerjane came up she told me that the "young 
minister" was "a-gettin' it into the 'ouse." 

I think that was the last straw of my burden, for my mind 
came back with a swift rebound from Maggie Jones's child to 
my own. 



394 THE WOMAN THOU GAYEST ME 

The thought of leaving my baby behind now terrified and 
appalled me. It brought me no comfort to think that though 
I was poor my father was rich, for I knew that if he ever 
came to know of my child's existence he would hate it and 
east it off, as the central cause of the downfall of his plans. 

Yet Martin's child alone, and at the mercy of the world! 
It could not and must not be ! 

Then came a fearful thought. I fought against it. I said 
many "Hail Marys" to protect myself from it. But I could 
not put it away. 

Perhaps my physical condition was partly to blame. Others 
must judge of that. It is only for me to say, in all truth 
and sincerity, what I felt and thought when I stood (as 
every woman who is to be a mother must) at the door of that 
dark chamber which is Life's greatest mystery. 

I thought of how Martin had been taken from me, as Fate 
(perhaps for some good purpose still unrevealed) had led me 
to believe. 

I thought of how I had comforted myself with the hope of 
the child that was coming to be a link between us. 

I thought of the sweet hours I had spent in making my 
baby's clothes; in choosing her name; in whispering it to 
myself, yes, and to God, too, every night and every morning. 

I thought of how day by day I had trimmed the little lamp 
I kept burning in the sanctuary within my breast where my 
baby and I lived together. 

I thought of how this had taken the sting out of death and 
victory out of the grave. And after that I told myself that, 
however sweet and beautiful, att this had been selfishness dnd 
1 must put it away. 

Then I thought of the child itself, who conceived in sin 
as my Church would say, disinherited by the law, outlawed 
by society, inheriting my physical weaknesses, having lost 
one of its parents and being liable to lose the other was now 
in danger of being left to the mercies of the world, banned 
from its birth, penniless and without a protector, to become 
a drudge and an outcast or even a thief, a gambler, or a harlot. 

This was what I thought and felt. 

And when at last I knew that I had come to the end of my 
appointed time I knelt down in my sad room, and if ever I 
prayed a fervent prayer, if ever my soul went up to God in 
passionate supplication, it was that the child I had longed for 



I BECOME A MOTHER 395 

and looked forward to as a living link with my lost one 
might be born dead. 

"Oh God, whatever happens to me, let my baby be born 
dead I pray, I beseech Thee." 

Perhaps it was a wicked prayer. God knows. He will be 
just. 

EIGHTY-SEVENTH CHAPTER 

IT was Saturday, the seventh of June. The summer had 
been a cold one thus far; the night was chill and heavy rain 
was beating against the window-pane. 

There was a warm fire in my room for the first time for 
several months; the single gas jet on the window side of the 
mantelpiece had been turned low, and the nurse, in list slip- 
pers, was taking my little flannel and linen garments out of 
the chest of drawers and laying them on the flat steel fender. 

I think I must have had intervals of insensibility, for the 
moments of consciousness came and went with me, like the 
diving and rising of a sea-bird in the midst of swelling waves. 

At one such moment I became aware that the doctor and 
my "Welsh landlady, as well as my nurse, were in the room, and 
that they were waiting for the crisis and fearing for my life. 

I heard them talking in low voices which made a drumming 
noise in my ears, like that which the sea makes when it is 
rolling into a cave. 

"She's let herself down so low, pore thing, that I don't 
know in the world what's to happen to her." 

"As God is my witness, look you, I never saw anybody 
live on so little." 

"I'm not afraid of the mother. I'm more afraid of the 
child, if you ask me." 

Then the drumming noise would die out, and I would 
only hear something within myself saying: 

"Oh God, oh God, that my child may be born dead." 

At another moment I heard, above the rattle of the rain, 
the creaking of the mangle in the cellar-kitchen on the other 
side of the street. 

At still another moment I heard the sound of quarrelling in 
the house opposite. A woman was screaming, children were 
shrieking, and a man was swearing in a thick hoarse voice. 

I knew what had happened it was midnight, the "public- 
houses had turned out," and Mr. Wagstaffe had come home 
drunk. 



396 THE WOMAN THOU GAYEST ME 

The night passed heavily. I heard myself (as I had done 
before) calling on Martin in a voice of wild entreaty: 

" Martin! Martin!" 

Then remembering- that he was gone I began again to pray. 
I heard myself praying to the Blessed Virgin: 

"Oh, Mother of my God, let my child ..." 

But a voice which seemed to come from far away inter- 
rupted me. 

' ' Hush, bach, hush ! It will make it harder for thee. ' ' 

At length peace came. It seemed to me that I was running 
out of a tempestuous sea, with its unlimited loneliness and 
cruel depth, into a quiet harbour. 

There was a heavenly calm, in which I could hear the 
doctor and the nurse and my "Welsh landlady talking together 
in cheerful whispers. 

I knew that everything was over, and with the memory of 
the storm I had passed through still in my heart and brain, 
I said: 

"Is it dead?" 

"Dead?" cried the nurse in a voice several octaves higher 
than usual. ' ' Dear heart no, but alive and well. A beautiful 
little girl!" 

"Yes, your baby is all right, ma'am," said the doctor, and 
then my Welsh landlady cried: 

"Why did'st think it would be dead, bach? As I am a 
Christian woman thee'st got the beautifullest baby that ever 
breathed. ' ' 

I could bear no more. The dark thoughts of the days 
before were over me still, and with a groan I turned to the 
wall. Then everything was wiped out as by an angel's wing, 
and I fell into a deep sleep. 

When I awoke my dark thoughts were vanishing away like 
a bad dream in the morning. The rain had ceased, the gas 
had been put out, and I could see by the glow on the peonies 
of the wall-paper that the sun was shining with a soft red 
light through the holland blinds of my windows. 

I heard the sparrows chirping on the sills outside ; I heard 
the milkman rattling his cans; I heard the bells of a neigh- 
bouring church ringing for early communion. 

I closed my eyes and held my breath and listened to the 
sounds in my own room. I heard the kettle singing over 
the fire ; I heard somebody humming softly, and beating a foot 



I BECOME A MOTHER 397 

on the floor in time to the tune ; and then I heard a low yoice 
(it was Emmer jane's) saying from somewhere near my bed: 

"I dunno but what she's awake. Her breathing ain't 
a-goin' now." 

Then I turned and saw the nurse sitting before the fire 
with something on her lap. I knew what it was. It was 
my child, and it was asleep. In spite of my dark thoughts 
my heart yearned for it. 

And then came the great miracle. 

My child awoke and began to cry. It was a faint cry, oh! 
so thin and weak, but it went thundering and thundering 
through me. There was a moment of awful struggle, and 
then a mighty torrent of love swept over me. 

It was Motherhood. 

My child ! Mine ! Flesh of my flesh ! Oh God ! Oh God I 

All my desire for my baby's death to save it from the pains 
of life was gone, and my heart, starved so long, throbbed with 
tenderness. I raised myself in bed, in spite of my nurse's 
protest, and cried to her to give me my baby. 

"Give her to me. Give her to me." 

"By-and-by, by-and-by," said the nurse. 

"Now, now! I can wait no longer." 

"But you must take some food first. Emmer jane, give her 
that glass of milk and water." 

I drank the milk just to satisfy them, and then held out 
my arms for my child. 

' ' Give her to me quick, quick ! ' ' 

"Here she is then, the jewel!" 

Oh! the joy of that moment when I first took my baby in 
my arms, and looked into her face, and saw my own features 
and the sea-blue eyes of Martin ! Oh the rapture of my first 
eager kiss ! 

I suppose I must have been rough with my little cherub 
in the fervour of my love, for she began to cry again. 

"There! there!" said the nurse. "Be good now, or I 
must take baby away." 

But heaven had taught me another lesson, and instantly, 
instinctively, I put my baby to my breast. Instantly and 
instinctively, too, my baby turned to it with its little mouth 
open and its little fingers feeling for the place. 

"Oh God! My God! Oh Mother of my God!" 

And then in that happiness that is beyond all earthly 



398 THE WOMAN THOU GAVEST ME 

bliss the happiness of a mother when she first clasps her 
baby to her breast I began to cry. 

I had not cried for months not since that night in Elian 
which I did not wish to remember any more but now my 
tears gushed out and ran down my face like rain. 

I cried on Martin once more I could not help it. And 
looking down at the closed eyes of my child my soul gushed 
out in gratitude to God, who had sent me this for all I had 
suffered. 

"Hush, hush! You will do yourself a mischief and it will 
be bad for the milk," said the nurse. 

After that I tried to control myself. But I found a fierce 
and feverish delight in suckling my child. It seemed as if 
every drop my baby drew gave me a spiritual as well as a 
physical joy cooling my blood and my brain and wiping 
out all my troubles. 

Oh mystery of mysteries! Oh miracle of miracles! 

My baby was at my breast and my sufferings were at an end. 

EIGHTY-EIGHTH CHAPTER 

THAT was a long, long day of happiness. 

It was both very long and very short, for it passed like a 
dream. 

What wonderful happenings were crowded into it! 

First the nurse, from the dizzy heights of her greater ex- 
perience and superior knowledge, indulged my infantile 
anxieties by allowing me to look on while baby was being 
bathed, and rewarded me for "being good" by many praises 
of my baby's beauty. 

"I've nursed a-many in my time," she said, "but I don't 
mind saying as I've never had a bonnier babby on my knee. 
Look at her legs now, so white and plump and dimpled. 
Have you ever seen any think so putty?" 

I confessed that I never had, and when nurse showed me 
how to fix the binder, and put on the barrow-coat without dis- 
turbing baby while asleep, I thought her a wonderful woman. 

Emmerjane, who had with difficulty been kept out of the 
room last night and was now rushing breathlessly up and 
down stairs, wished to hold baby for a moment, and at length 
out of the magnificence of my generosity I allowed her to do 
so, only warning her, as she loved her life, to hold tight and 
not let baby fall. 



I BECOME A MOTHER 399 

"How'd you mean?" said the premature little mother. 
"Me let her fall? Not much!" 

Every hour, according to the doctor's orders, I gave baby 
the breast. I do not know which was my greatest joy to 
feast my eyes on her while she sucked and to see her little 
head fall back with her little mouth open when she had had 
enough, or to watch her when she stretched herself and hic- 
coughed, and then grasped my thumb with her little tight 
fingers. 

Oh, the wild, inexpressible delight of it! 

Every hour had its surprise. Every few minutes had their 
cause of wonder. 

It rather hurt me when baby cried, and I dare say my own 
foolish lip would drop at such moments, but when I saw that 
there were no tears in her eyes, and she was only calling for 
her food, I pleaded with nurse to let me give her the breast 
again. 

The sun shone all day long, and though the holland window 
blinds were kept down to subdue the light, for my sake and 
perhaps for baby's, I thought my room looked perfectly beau- 
tiful. It might be poor and shabby, but nights of angels could 
not have made it more heavenly than it was in my eyes then. 

In the afternoon nurse told me I must take some sleep 
myself, but I would not sleep until baby slept, so she had to 
give me my cherub again, and I sat up and rocked her and 
for a while I sang as softly as I could a little lullaby. 

It was a lullaby I had learned at Nemi from the Italian 
women in embroidered outside stays, who so love their chil- 
dren ; and though I knew quite well that it had been written 
for the Mother of all Mothers, who, after she had been turned 
away from every door, had been forced to take refuge in a 
stable in Bethlehem, I was in such an ecstasy of spiritual 
happiness that I thought it no irreverence to change it a 
little and to sing it in my London lodging to my human child. 

"Sleep, little baby, I love thee, I love thee, 
Sleep, little Queen, I am bending above thee." 

I dare say my voice was sweet that day a mother's voice 
is always sweet for when Emmerjane, who had been out of 
the room, came back to it with a look of awed solemnity, she 
said: 

' ' Well, I never did ! I thought as 'ow there was a ' angel 
a-eome into this room." 



400 THE WOMAN THOU GAVEST ME 

' ' So there is, and here she is, " I said, beaming down on my 
sleeping child. 

But the long, short, blissful day came to an end at last, 
and when night fell and I dropped asleep, there were two 
names of my dear ones on my lips, and if one of them was 
the name of him who (as I thought) was in heaven, the 
other was the name of her who was now lying in my arms. 

I may have been poor, but I felt like a queen with all the 
riches of life in my little room. 

I may have sinned against the world and the Church, but 
I felt as if God had justified me by His own triumphant law. 

The whole feminine soul in me seemed to swell and throb, 
and with my baby at my breast I wanted no more of earth or 
heaven. 

I was still bleeding from the bruises of Fate, but I felt 
healed of all my wounds, loaded with benefits, crowned with 
rewards. 

Four days passed like this, varied by visits from the doctor 
and my Welsh landlady. Then my nurse began to talk of 
leaving me. 

I did not care. In my ignorance of my condition, and the 
greed of my motherly love, I was not sorry she was going so 
soon. Indeed, I was beginning to be jealous of her, and 
was looking forward to having my baby all to myself. 

But nurse, as I remember, was a little ashamed and tried 
to excuse herself. 

"If I hadn't promised to nurse another lady, I wouldn't 
leave you, money or no money," she said. "But the girl" 
(meaning Emmerjane) "is always here, and if she isn't like 
a nurse she's 'andy. " 

"Yes, yes, I shall be all right," I answered. 

On the fifth day my nurse left me, and shocking as that 
fact seems to me now, I thought little of it then. 

I was entirely happy. I had nothing in the world except 
my baby, and my baby had nothing in the world except me. 
I was still in the dungeon that had seemed so dreadful to me 
before the great dungeon of London to one who is poor and 
friendless. 

But no matter! I was no longer alone, for there was one 
more inmate in my prison-house my child. 



SIXTH PART 
I AM LOST 

'Is it nothing to you, ye that pass by . . . f 
MEMORANDUM BY MARTIN 



I hate to butt in where I may not be wanted, but if the 
remainder of my darling's story is to be understood I must 
say what was happening in the meant ime to me. 

God knows there was never a day on which I did not think 
of my dear one at home, wondering what was happening to 
her, and whether a certain dark fact which always lay at the 
back of my mind as a possibility was actually coming to pass. 

But she would be brave I know that quite well and I 
saw plainly that, if I had to get through the stiff job that was 
before me, I must put my shadowy fears away and think only 
of the dangers I was sure about. 

The first of these was that she might suppose our ship was 
lost, so as soon as we had set up on old Erebus the wooden 
lattice towers which contained our long-distance electric 
apparatus, I tried to send her that first message from the 
Antarctic which was to say we had not been shipwrecked. 

It was a thrilling moment. Exactly at the stroke of mid- 
night on January 21, while the midnight sun was shining 
with its dull sullen glow, the whole of our company having 
gathered round, the wireless man prepared to despatch my 
message. 

As we were not sure of our machinery I had drawn up the 
words to suit any place into which they might fall if they 
missed their intended destination: 

"South Pole Expedition safe. All well. Send greetings 
to dear ones at home." 

For some forty seconds the sparks crackled out their snappy 
signals into the crisp night air, and then the settled calm 
returned, and we stood in breathless silence like beings on 
the edge of a world waiting for the answer to come as from 
another planet. 

It came. After a few minutes we heard from our magnetic 

401 2C 



402 THE WOMAN THOU GAVEST ME 

detector the faint sound of the S signals, and then we broke 
into a great cheer. It was not much, but it was enough ; and 
while our scientific staff were congratulating themselves that 
electric-wave telegraphy was not inhibited by long distance, 
or by the earth's curvature over an arc of a great circle, I 
was thinking of my dear one that one way or another my 
message would reach her and she would be relieved. 

Then in splendid health and spirits dogs, ponies, and 
men all A 1 we started on our journey, making a bee-line 
for the Pole. 

Owing to the heavy weights we had to transport our prog- 
ress was slow, much slower than we had expected ; and though 
the going was fair and we kept a steady pace, travelling a 
good deal by night, it was not until the end of March that 
we reached Mount Darwin, which I had fixed on for the 
second of our electric power stations. 

By this time winter was approaching, the nights were be- 
ginning to be dark and cold, and the altitude (8000 ft.) was 
telling on some of us. 

Nevertheless our second installation got finished about the 
last week in April, and again we gathered round (not quite 
such a hearty company as before) while the wireless man 
spoke to the operator we had left on Erebus. 

Again the electrical radiations went crackling into space, 
and again we gave a cheer when the answer came back all 
well and instruments in perfect order. 

Then, late as it was, we began on the last stage of our 
journey, which we knew would be a hard one. Three hundred 
geographical miles in front; temperature down to minus 40 ; 
the sun several weeks gone, and nothing before us but thick- 
ening twilight, cold winds, snow, the rare aurora and the 
frequent moon. 

But the worst fact was that our spirits were low, and do 
what I would to keep a good heart and cheer up the splendid 
fellows who had come with me, I could not help feeling the 
deepening effect of that sunless gloom. 

In spite of this, I broke camp on April 25, and started 
straight as a die for the South. 

It was a stiff fight over the upper glacier in latitude 85, 
with its razor-shaped ice, full of snow-covered crevasses, and 
three days out two of our best men fell into one of the worst 
of them. 

I saw the accident from a dozen yards away, and running 



I AM LOST 403 

up I lay on my stomach and shouted down, but it was a black 
bottomless gulf and not a sound or a sign came back to me. 

This cast a still deeper gloom on our company, who could 
not be cheered up, though I kept telling them we should be on 
the great plateau soon, please God, and then we should have 
a clear road to the Pole. 

"We were not much better on top though, for the surface was 
much broken up, and in that brewing place of the winds there 
seemed to be nothing but surging seas of cumulus cloud and 
rolling waves of snow. 

The Polar march was telling on us badly. We were doing 
no more than seven miles at a stretch. So to help my ship- 
mates to keep up their spirits (and perhaps to give a bit of a 
"heise" to my own) I had to sing all day long though my 
darling is right that I have no more voice than a corncrake. 

Sometimes I sang ' ' Ramsey Town, ' ' because it did not want 
much music, but generally "Sally's the gel for me," because 
it had a rattling chorus. The men all joined in (scientific 
experts included), and if the angels took any heed of us, I 
think it must have touched them up to look down on our little 
company of puny men singing away as we trudged through 
that snowy wilderness which makes a man feel so small. 

But man can only do his best, and as Father Dan (God bless 
his old heart!) used to say, the angels can do no more. We 
were making middling hard work of it in the 88th parallel, 
with a temperature as low as 50 degrees of frost, when a 
shrieking, blinding blizzard came sweeping down on us fiom 
the south. 

I thought it might blow itself out, but it didn 't, so we struck 
camp in a broad half -circle, building igloos (snow huts) with 
their backs (like rain-beaten cattle) to the storm. 

There we lay nine days and it is not worth while now to 
say how much some of our men suffered from frozen fingers, 
and more from falling spirits. 

Sometimes I heard them saying (in voices that were in- 
tended to be loud enough for me to hear) it would have been 
better to have built winter quarters on the north of Darwin 
and settle there until the return of summer And at other 
times I heard them counting the distance to the Pole a hun- 
dred geographical miles, making twenty days' march at this 
season, with the heavy weights we had to carry, and the 
dwindling of our dogs and ponies, for we had killed a lot 
of them for food. 



404 THE WOMAN THOU GAYEST ME 

But I would not give in, for I felt that to go back without 
finishing my job would break my heart; and one day when old 
Treacle said, "No use, guv'nor, let's give it best," I flew at 
him like a hunted tiger. 

AH the same I was more than a bit down myself, for there 
were days when, death was very near, and one night it really 
broke me up to hear a big 1 strapping chap saying to the man 
who shared his two-man sack, "I shouldn't care a whiff if it 
wasn't for the wife and the kiddies." 

God knows I had my own anchor at home, and sometimes 
it had a devil of a tog at me. I fought myself hard, though, 
and at last in my desire to go on and my yearning to go back 
to my dear one, I made an awful proposal, such as a man does 
not much like to think of after a crisis is over. 

"Shipmates,' 7 1 said, "it isn't exactly my fault that we are 
here in the middle of winter, but here we are, and we must 
make the best of it. I am going forward, and those who want 
to go with me can go. But those who don't want to go can 
stay; and so that no one may have it on his conscience that 
he has kept his comrades back, whether by weakness or by 
will, I have told the doctor to serve out a dose of something to 
every man, that he may end it whenever he wants to." 

To my surprise that awful proposal was joyfully received; 
and never so long as I live shall I forget the sight of 
OTSullrran going round the broad circle of my shipmates in 
the bine gloom of that noonday twilight and handing some- 
thing to every one of them, while nobody spoke, and Death 
seemed to look us in the face. 

And now I come to the incident for which I have told this 
story. 

I could not get a wink of sleep that night for thinking of 
the brave fellows I had doomed to death by their own hands 
(for that was what it came to), because their souls were starv- 
ing and they were thinking of home. 

My soul was starving too, and whether it was the altitude 
(now 11,000 ft) that was getting into my head, and giving 
me that draught in the brain which only travellers in frozen 
regions know, or the Power higher than Nature which speaks 
to a man in great solitudes when fife is low, I cannot say, but 
as God is my witness, I was hearing 1 again the voices of my 
dear ones so far away. 

Sometimes they were the voices of my old people in Elian, 
but more frequently, and most importunately, it was Mary's 



I AMLOST 406 

voice, calling me by my name, and crying to me for help as if 
she were in the shadow of some threatening danger. 

"Martin! Martin! Martin!" 

When this idea took clear possession of me it was about 
three am. and the hurricane was yowling like a wounded dog 
the answering thought came quick. I most go back, No 
matter at what cost or sacrifice I must go back. 

It was in Tain I reflected that the trouble which threatened 
my darling (whatever it was, and I thought I knew) might 
be all over before I reached her side I must go back. 

And even when I reminded myself that I was within twenty 
days' march of that last point of my journey which was to be 
the -crown and completion of it all, I also remembered that 
my dear one was calling me. and I had no choke but to obey. 

Next morning, in the first light of the dim Antarctic glow, 
I crept out of my snow hut to look sooth with powerful 
glasses in order to make sure that there was no reason why I 
should change my mind. 

There was none. Although the snow had ceased the blizzard 
was blowing a hundred miles an hour in cutting gusts, so 
with a bleeding heart (and yet a hot one) I told Treacle to 
call up our company, and when they stood round me in Hie 
shelter of my hut I said: 

"Shipmates, I have been tl""fci"g things over during the 
night, and I see them differently now. Nature is stronger 
than man, and the nature that is inside of us sometimes hits 
us harder than that which is without. I think it is that way 
with us here, and I believe there isn't a man of yon who 
wouldn't go forward with me if he had nobody to think of 
except himself. . . . Well, perhaps / have somebody to 
think of, too, so well stick together, shipmates, and whatever 
regrets there may be, or disappointments, or heart-breakings, 
well . . . well go back home." 

I think it says something for the mettle my men were made 
of that there was never a cheer after I said that, for they 
could see what it cost me to say it. But by God, there was a 
shout when I added: 

"We've drawn a blank this time, boys, but well draw a 
winner yet, and I ask you to swear that you 11 come back with 
me next year, please God, to finish the work weVe begun." 

Then we gripped hands in that desolate place, and took 
our solemn oath, and God knows we meant to keep it 



It did not take long to strike camp, I can tell you. The 



406 THE WOMAN THOU GAYEST ME 

men were bustling about like boys and we had nothing to 
think of now but the packing of the food and the harnessing 
of the dogs and ponies, for we were leaving everything else 
behind us. 

At the last moment before we turned northward I planted 
the Union Jack on the highest hummock of snow, and when we 
were a hundred yards off I looked back through the gloom 
and saw it blowing stiffly in the wind. 

I don't think I need tell how deeply that sight cut me, but 
if life has another such moment coming for me all I have to 
say is that I hope I may die before I live to see it which is 
Irish, but most damnably true. 

That was twelve o'clock noon on the eighth day of June; 
and anybody may make what he likes of what I say, but as 
nearly as I can calculate the difference of time between London 
and where we were in the 88th latitude it was the very hour 
of my dear one's peril. M. C. 

[END OP MABTIN CONRAD'S MEMORANDUM] 

EIGHTY-NINTH CHAPTER 

Two weeks passed and if I suffered from getting up too soon 
I was never conscious of it. 

Once or twice, perhaps, in the early days I felt a certain 
dizziness and had to hold on for a moment to the iron rail of 
my bedstead, but I was too much occupied with the tender 
joys of motherhood to think much about myself. 

Bathing, dressing, undressing, and feeding my baby were a 
perpetual delight to me. 

"What a joy it all was! 

There must be something almost animal, even voluptuous, 
in mothers' love, for there was nothing I liked so much as 
having baby naked on my knee and devouring its sweet body 
all over with kisses putting its little fat hands and even its 
little fat feet into my mouth. 

There must be something almost infantile, too, for some- 
times after I had talked to my darling with a flood of joyous 
chatter I would even find myself scolding her a little, and 
threatening what I would do if she did not ' ' behave. ' ' 

Oh, mysterious laws of motherhood ! Only God can fathom 
the depths of them. 

It was just as if sixteen years of my life had rolled back, 



I AM LOST 407 

and I was again a child in my mother's room playing with 
my dolls under the table. Only there was something so 
wonderful now in the sweet eyes that looked up at me, that at 
certain moments I would fall into a long reverie and my heart 
would be full of adoration. 

What lengths I went to! 

It was the height of the London season when baby came; 
and sometimes at night, looking through my window, I saw the 
tail-end of the long queue of carriages and electric broughams 
which stretched to the end of the street I lived in, from the 
great houses fronting the Park where balls and receptions 
were being held until the early hours of morning. But I 
never envied the society ladies they were waiting for. On the 
contrary I pitied them, remembering they were childless 
women for the most part and thinking their pleasures were 
hollow as death compared with mine. 

I pitied the rich mothers too the mothers who banish 
their babies to nurseries to be cared for by servants, and I 
thought how much more blessed was the condition of poor 
mothers like myself who kept all that sweetness to themselves. 

How happy I was! No woman coming into a fortune was 
ever so happy. I sang all day long. Sometimes it was the 
sacred music of the convent in which each note, with its own 
glory of sound, wraps one's heart round as with a rainbow, 
but more frequently it was "Ramsey Town" or "Sally's the 
gel for me," which were only noisy nonsense but dear to me 
by such delicious memories. 

My neighbours would come to their doors to listen, and 
when I had stopped I would hear them say: 

"Our lady is a 'appy 'eart, isn't she?" 

I suppose it was because I was so happy that my looks 
returned to me, though I did not know it was so until one 
morning, after standing a moment at the window, I heard 
somebody say: 

"Our lady seems to be prettier than ever now her baby 
has come." 

I should not have been a woman if I could have resisted 
that, so I ran to the glass to see if it was true, and it was. 

The ugly lines that used to be in my cheeks had gone, my 
hair had regained its blue-black lustre, and my eyes had 
suddenly become bright like a darkened room when the 
shutters are opened and the sunshine streams into it. 

But the coming of baby did better for me than that. It 



408 THE WOMAN THOU GAYEST ME 

brought me back to God, before whom I now felt so humble 
and so glad, because he had transformed the world for me. 

Every Catholic will know why I could not ask for the 
benediction of the Church after childbirth; but he will also 
know why I was in a fever of anxiety to have my baby bap- 
tized at the earliest possible moment. It was not that I feared 
her death (I never thought of that in those days), but 
because I lived in dread of the dangers which had darkened 
my thoughts before she was born. 

So when baby was nearly a fortnight old I wrote to the 
Rector of a neighbouring Catholic Church asking when I 
might bring her to be baptized, and he sent me a printed 
reply, giving the day and hour, and enclosing a card to be 
fillled up with her name and all other particulars. 

"What a day of joy and rapture was that of my baby's 
baptism! I was up with the sun on the morning appointed 
to take her to church and spent hours and hours in dressing her. 

How lovely she looked when I had finished! I thought 
she was the sweetest thing in the world, sweeter than a rose- 
bud under its sparkling web of dew when the rising sun is 
glistening on it. 

After I had put on all the pretty clothes I had prepared for 
her before she was born the christening robe and the pelisse 
and the knitted bonnet with its pink ribbons and the light 
woollen veil I lifted her up to the glass to look at herself, 
being such a child myself and so wildly, foolishly happy. 

"That old Rector won't see anything equal to her this 
summer morning anyway," I thought. 

And then the journey to church! 

I have heard that unmarried mothers, going out for the 
first time after their confinement, feel ashamed and confused, 
as if every passer-by must know their shameful secret. I was 
a kind of unmarried mother myself, God help me, but I had 
no such feeling. Indeed I felt proud and gay, and when I 
sailed out with my baby in my arms I thought all the people 
in our street were looking at me, and I am sure I wanted to 
say "Good morning" to everybody I met on my way. 

The church was not in a joyous quarter. It stood on the 
edge of a poor and very populous district, with a flaunting 
public-house immediately opposite. "When I got to it I found 
a number of other mothers (all working women), with their 
babies and the godfathers and godmothers they had provided 
for them, waiting at the door. 



I AM LOST 409 

At this sight I felt very stupid, for I had been thinking so 
much about other things (some of them vain enough perhaps) 
that I had forgotten the necessity for sponsors ; and I do not 
know what I should have done at that last moment if the 
sacristan had not come to my relief finding me two old 
people who, for a fee of a shilling each, were willing to stand 
godmother and godfather to my darling. 

Then the priest came out of the church in his white surplice 
and stole, and we all gathered in the porch for the preliminary 
part of the sacrament. 

"What an experience it was ! Never since my marriage had 
I been in a state of such spiritual exaltation. 

The sacristan, showing me some preference, had put me in 
the middle of the row, immediately in front of the priest, so 
what happened to the other children I do not know, having 
eyes and ears for nothing but the baptism of my own baby. 

There were some mistakes, but they did not trouble me, 
although one was a little important. 

When the priest said, "What name give you this child?" 
I handed the Rector's card to the sacristan, and whispered 
"Isabel Mary" to the godmother, but the next thing I heard 
was: 

"Mary Isabel, what dost thou ask of the Church of God?" 

But- what did it matter? Nothing mattered except one 
thing that my darling should be saved by the power of the 
Holy Sacrament from the dark terrors which threatened her. 

Oh. it is a fearful and awful thing, the baptism of a child, 
if you really and truly believe in it. And I did from the 
bottom of my heart and soul I believed in it and trusted it. 

In my sacred joy I must have cried nearly all the time, for 
I had taken baby's bonnet off, I remember, and holding it to my 
mouth I found after a while that I was wetting it with my 
tears. 

When the exorcisms were over, the priest laid the end of his 
stole over baby's shoulder and led her (as our prayer books 
say) into the church, and we all followed to the baptistery, 
where I knelt immediately in front of the font, with the old 
godmother before me, the other mothers on either side, and 
a group of whispering children behind. 

The church was empty, save for two charwomen who were 
sweeping the floor of the nave somewhere up by the dark and 
silent altar ; and when the sacristan closed the outer door there 



410 THE WOMAN THOU GAYEST ME 

was a solemn hush, which was broken only by the priest's 
voice and the godparents' muttered responses. 
'Mary Isabel, dost thou renounce Satan?" 
'I do renounce him." 
'And all his works?" 
'I do renounce them." 
'And all his pomps?" 
'I do renounce them." 

The actual baptism was like a prayer to me. I am sure my 
whole soul went out to it. And though I may have been a 
sinful woman unworthy to be churched, I know, and God 
knows, that no chaste and holy nun ever prayed with a purer 
heart than I did then, kneeling there with my baby's bonnet 
to my mouth. 

"Mary Isabel, I baptize thee in the name of the Father 4 
and of the Son 4- and of the Holy Ghost.*" 

Except that baby cried a little when the water was poured 
on her head (as she had cried when the salt was put on her 
tongue), I knew no more after that until I saw the candle in 
the godfather's hand (which signified that my child had been 
made a Child of Light) and heard the priest say : 

"Go in peace and the Lord be with thee." 
Then I awoke as from a trance. There was a shuffling of 
feet. The priest was going away. The solemn rite was at an 
end. 

I rose from my knees, put a little money in the plate which 
the sacristan held out to me, gave a shilling to each of the two 
old sponsors, took baby back into my arms, and sat down 
in a pew to put on her bonnet and veil. 

The spiritual exaltation which had sustained me lasted until 
I reached the street where the other mothers and their friends 
were laughing and joking, in voices that had to be pitched 
high over the rattle of the traffic, about going to the house 
opposite to "wet the baby's head." 

But I think something of the celestial light of the sacrament 
must have been on my face still when I reached home, for I 
remember that as I knocked at the door, and waited for the 
rope from the kitchen to open it, I heard one of my neighbours 
say: 

"Our lady has taken a new lease of life, hasn't she?" 

I thought I had a great new lease of physical and spiritual 
life. 

But how little did I know what Fate had in store for me ! 



I AM LOST 411 

NINETIETH CHAPTER 

I WAS taking off baby's outdoor things when my Welsh land- 
lady came np to ask how I had got on, and after I had told 
her she said : 

"And now thee'st got to get the jewel registered.*' 

"Registered?" 

"Within three weeks. It's the law, look yon." 

That was the first thing that frightened me. I had filled 
up truthfully enough the card which the Rector had sent me, 
because I knew that the register of my Church must be as 
sacred as its confessional. 

But a public declaration of my baby's birth and parentage 
seemed to be quite another matter charged with all the dan- 
gers to me, to Martin, and above all to my child, which had 
overshadowed my life before she was born. 

More than once I felt tempted to lie, to make a false declara- 
tion, to say that Martin had been my husband and Isabel was 
my legitimate child. 

But at length I resolved to speak the truth, the plain truth, 
telling myself that God's law was above man's law, and I had 
no right to be ashamed. 

In this mood I set off for the Registry Office. It was a long 
way from where I lived, and carrying baby in my arms I was 
tired when I got there. 

I found it to be a kind of private house, with an open vesti- 
bule and a black-and-white enamelled plate on the door-post, 
saying "Registry of Births and Deaths." 

In the front parlour (which reminded me of Mr. Curphy's 
office in Holm town) there was a counter by the door and a 
large table covered with papers in the space within. 

Two men sat at this table, an old one and a young one, and 
I remember that I thought the old one must have been reading 
aloud from a newspaper which he held open in his hand, for as 
I entered the young one was saying: 

"Extraordinary! Perfectly extraordinary! And every- 
body thought they were lost, too!" 

In the space between the door and the counter two women 
were waiting. Both were poor and obviously agitated. One 
had a baby in her arms, and when it whimpered for its food 
she unbuttoned her dress and fed it openly. The other woman, 
whose eyes were red as if she had been crying, wore a coloured 



412 THE WOMAN THOU GAVEST ME 

straw hat over which, in a pitiful effort to assume black, she 
had stretched a pennyworth of cheap crepe. 

In his own good time the young man got up to attend to 
them. He was a very ordinary young clerk in a check suit, 
looking frankly bored by the dull routine of his daily labour, 
and palpably unconscious of the fact that every day and hour 
of his life he was standing on the verge of the stormiest places 
of the soul. 

Opening one of two registers which lay on the counter (the 
Register of Births) he turned first to the woman with the 
child. Her baby, a boy, was illegitimate, and in her nervous- 
ness she stumbled and stammered, and he corrected her sharply. 

Then opening the other register (the Register of Deaths) 
he attended to the woman in the crepe. She had lost her little 
girl, two years old, and produced a doctor's certificate. While 
she gave the particulars she held a soiled handkerchief to her 
mouth as if to suppress a sob, but the young clerk's composure 
remained undisturbed. 

I do not know if it was the agitation of the two poor women 
that made me nervous, but when they were gone and my turn 
had come, I was hot and trembling. 

The young clerk, however, who was now looking at me for 
the first time, had suddenly become respectful. With a bow 
and a smile he asked me if I wished to register my child, and 
when I answered yes he asked me to be good enough to step 
up to the counter. 

' ' And what is your baby 's name, please ? " he asked. 

I told him. He dipped his pen in his metal ink-pot, shook 
some drops back, made various imaginary flourishes over his 
book and wrote: 

"Mary Isabel." 

"And now," he said, with another smile, "the full name, 
profession, and place of residence of the father." 

I hesitated for a moment, and then, making a call on my 
resolution, I said: 

"Martin Conrad, seaman, deceased." 

The young clerk looked up quickly. 

"Did you say Martin Conrad, ma'am?" he asked, and as 
well as I could for a click in my throat I answered : 

"Yes." 

He paused as if thinking; then with the same flourish as 
before he wrote that name also, and after he had done so, he 



I AM LOST 413 

twisted his face about to the old man, Avho was sitting behind 
him, and said, in a voice that was not meant to reach me : 

"Extraordinary coincidence, isn't it?" 

"Extraordinary!" said the old man, who had lowered his 
newspaper and was looking across at me over the rims of his 
spectacles. 

"And now," said the young clerk, "your own name and 
your maiden name if you please." 

"Mary O'Neill." 

The young clerk looked up at me again. I was holding baby 
on my left arm and I could see that his eye caught niy wedding 
ring. 

' ' Mary Conrad, maiden name 'Neill, I presume ? " he said. 

I hesitated once more. The old temptation was surging back 
upon me. But making a great pull on my determination to 
tell the truth (or what I believed to be the truth) I answered: 

"No, Mary O'Neill simply." 

"Ah!" said the young clerk, and I thought his manner 
changed instantly. 

There was silence for some minutes while the young clerk 
filled up his form and made the copy I was to carry away. 

I heard the scratching of the young clerk 's pen, the crinkling 
of the old man's newspaper, the hollow ticking of a round 
clock on the wall, the dull hum of the traffic in the streets, and 
the thud-thud-thudding in my own bosom. 

Then the entry was read out to me and I was asked to sign it. 

"Sign here, please," said the young clerk in quite a different 
tone, pointing to a vacant line at the bottom of the book, and 
I signed with a trembling hand and a feeling of only partial 
consciousness. 

I hardly know what happened after that until I was stand- 
ing in the open vestibule, settling baby on my arm afresh for 
my return journey, and telling myself that I had laid a stigma 
upon my child which would remain with her as long as she 
lived. 

It was a long, long way back, I remember, and when I 
reached home (having looked neither to the right nor left, nor 
at anything or anybody, though I felt as if everybody had 
been looking at me) I had a sense of dimness of sight and of 
aching in the eyeballs. 

I did not sing very much that day, and I thought baby was 
rather restless. 

Towards nightfall I had a startling experience. 



414 

I was preparing Isabel for bed, when I saw a red flush, like 
a rash, down the left side of her face. 

At first I thought it would pass away, but when it did not 
I called my Welsh landlady upstairs to look at it. 

"Do you see something like a stain on baby's face?" I 
asked, and then waited breathlessly for her answer. 

"No. . . . Yes. . . . Well," she said, "now that 
thee'st saying so . . . perhaps it's a birthmark." 

"A birthmark!" 

"Did'st strike thy face against anything when baby was 
coming!" 

I made some kind of reply, I hardly know what, but the truth, 
or what I thought to be the truth, flashed on me in a moment. 

Eemembering my last night at Castle Raa, and the violent 
scene which had occurred there, I told myself that the flush on 
baby's face was the mark of my husband's hand which, making 
no impression upon me, had been passed on to my child, and 
would remain with her to the end of her life, as the brand of 
her mother's shame and the sign of what had been called her 
bastardy. 

How I suffered at the sight of it! How time after time 
that night I leaned over my sleeping child to see if the mark 
had passed away ! How again and again I knelt by her side to 
pray that if sin of mine had to be punished the punishment 
might fall on me and not on my innocent babe ! 

At last I remembered baby's baptism and told myself that 
if it meant anything it meant that the sin in which my child 
had been born, the sin of those who had gone before her (if sin 
it was), had been cast out of her soul with the evil spirits 
which had inspired them. 

"This sign of the Holy Cross Hh which we make upon her 
forehead do thou. accursed devil, never dare to violate." 

God's law had washed my darling white! What could 
man's law his proud but puny morality do to injure her? 
It could do nothing! 

That comforted me. When I looked at baby again the 
flush had gone and I went to bed quite happy. 

NINETY-FIRST CHAPTER 

I THINK it must have been the morning of the next day when 
the nurse who had attended me in my confinement came to see 
how I was going along. 



I AM LOST 415 

I told her of the dimness of my sight and the aching of my 
eyeballs, whereupon she held up her hands and cried: 

"There now! What did I tell you! Didn't I say it is 
after a lady feels it!" 

The moral of her prediction was that, being in a delicate 
state of health, and having "let myself low" before baby was 
born, it was my duty to wean her immediately. 

I could not do it. 

Although the nurse 's advice was supported by my Welsh 
landlady (with various prognostications of consumption and 
rickets), I could not at first deny myself the wild joy of 
nursing my baby. 

But a severer monitor soon came to say that I must. I 
found that my money was now reduced to little more than two 
pounds, and that I was confronted by the necessity (which I 
had so long put off) of looking for employment. 

I could not look for employment until I had found a nurse 
for my child, and I could not find a nurse until my baby could 
do without me, so when Isabel was three weeks old I began 
to wean her. 

At first I contented myself with the hours of night, keeping 
a feeding-bottle in bed, with the cow's milk warmed to the 
heat of my own body. But when baby cried for the breast 
during the day I could not find it in my heart to deny her. 

That made the time of weaning somewhat longer than it 
should have been, but I compromised with my conscience by 
reducing still further my meagre expenses. 

Must I tell how I did so? 

Although it was the month of July there was a snap of cold 
weather such as sometimes comes in the middle of our English 
summer, and yet I gave up having a fire in my room, and for 
the cooking of my food I bought a small spirit stove which cost 
me a shilling. 

This tempted me to conduct which has since had conse- 
quences, and 1 am half ashamed and half afraid to speak of it. 
My baby linen being little I had to wash it frequently, and 
having no fire I ... dried it on my own body. 

Oh, I see now it was reckless foolishness, almost wilful 
madness, but I thought nothing of it then. I was poor and 
perhaps I was proud, and I could not afford a fire. And then 
a mother's love is as deep as the sea, and there was nothing 
in the wide world I would not have done to keep my darling 
a little longer beside me. 



416 THE WOMAN THOU GAYEST ME 

Baby being weaned at last I had next to think of a nurse, and 
that was a still more painful ordeal. To give my child to 
another woman, who was to be the same as a second mother 
to her, was almost more than I could bear to think about. 

I had to think of it. But I could only do so by telling 
myself that, when I put baby out to nurse, I might arrange to 
see her every morning and evening and as often as my employ- 
ment permitted. 

This idea partly reconciled me to my sacrifice, and I was in 
the act of drawing up a newspaper advertisement in these 
terms when my landlady came to say that the nurse knew of 
somebody who would suit me exactly. 

Nurse called the same evening and told me a long story 
about her friend. 

She was a Mrs. Oliver, and she lived at Ilford, which was at 
the other end of London and quite on the edge of the country. 
The poor woman, who was not too happily married, had lost 
a child of her own lately, and was now very lonely, being 
devoted to children. 

This pleased me extremely, especially (God forgive me !) the 
fact that Mrs. Oliver was a bereaved mother and lived on the 
edge of the country. 

Already in my mind's eye I saw her sitting on sunny days 
under a tree (perhaps in an orchard) with Isabel in her arms, 
rocking her gently and singing to her softly, and almost for- 
getting that she was not her own baby whom she had lost . . . 
though that was a two-edged sword which cut me both ways, 
being a sort of wild joy with tears lurking behind it. 

So I took a note of Mrs. Oliver's address (10 Leonard's Row, 
Lennard's Green, Ilford) and wrote to her the same night, 
asking her terms and stating my own conditions. 

A reply came the following day. It was a badly-written 
and misspelt letter, which showed me that Mrs. Oliver must be 
a working woman (perhaps the wife of a gardener or farm- 
labourer, I thought), though that did not trouble me in the 
least, knowing by this time how poor people loved their children. 
"The terms is fore shillins a u-cke," she wrote, "It at i am 

that lonelie sins my own Uttel one lef me i ivood tike your 

swete darling for nothin if I cud afford it and you can cum 

to see her as off en as you pleas." 

In my ignorance and simplicity this captured me com- 
pletely, so I replied at once saying I would take baby to Ilford 
the next day. 



I AM LOST 117 

I did all this in a rush, but when it came to the last moment 
I could scarcely part with my letter, and I remember that I 
passed three pillar-boxes in the front street before I could 
bring myself to post it. 

I suppose my eyes must have been red when I returned 
home, for my Welsh landlady (whom I had taken into my con- 
fidence about my means) took me to task for crying, telling me 
that I ought to thank God for what had happened, which was 
like a message from heaven, look you, and a dispensation of 
Providence. 

I tried to see things in that light, though it was difficult to 
do so, for the darker my prospects grew the more radiant shone 
the light of the little angel by whose life I lived, and the harder 
it seemed to live without her. 

"But it isn't like losing my child altogether, is it?" I said. 

" 'Deed no, and 'twill be better for both of you," said my 
landlady. 

"Although Eford is a long way off I can go there every day, 
can't I?" 

' ' T)eed thee can, if thee 'st not minding a journey of nine 
miles or more." 

"And if I can get a good situation and earn a little money 
I may be able to have baby back and hire somebody to nurse 
her, and so keep her all to myself." 

"And why shouldn't thee?" said my Welsh landlady. 
"Thee reading print like the young minister and writing 
letters like a copybook!" 

So in the fierce bravery of motherly love I dried my eyes 
and forced back my sobs, and began to pack up my baby's 
clothes, and to persuade myself that I was still quite happy. 

My purse was very low by this tune. After paying my rent 
and some other expenses I had only one pound and a few 
shillings left. 

NINETY-SECOND CHAPTER 

AT half past seven next morning I was ready to start on my 
journey. 

I took a hasty glance at myself in the glass before going out, 
and I thought my eyes were too much like the sky at daybreak 
all joyful beams with a veil of mist in front of them. 

But I made myself believe that never since baby was born 
had I been so happy. I was sure I was doing the best for her. 

2D 



418 THE WOMAN THOU GAYEST ME 

I was also sure I was doing the best for myself, for what could 
be so sweet to a mother as providing for her child ? 

My Welsh landlady had told me it was nine miles to Ilford, 
and I had gathered that I could ride all the way in successive 
omnibuses for less than a shilling. But shillings were scarce 
with me then, so I determined to walk all the way. 

Emmerjane, by her own urgent entreaty, carried baby as 
far as the corner of the Bayswater Road, and there the prema- 
ture little woman left me, after nearly smothering baby with 
kisses. 

"Keep straight as a' arrow and you can't lose your wye," 
she said. 

It was one of those beautiful mornings in late July when 
the air is fresh and the sun is soft, and the summer, even in 
London, has not yet had time to grow tired and dusty. 

I felt as light as the air itself. I had put baby's feeding- 
bottle in my pocket and hung her surplus linen in a parcel 
about my wrist, so I had nothing to carry in my arms except 
baby herself, and at first I did not feel her weight. 

There were not many people in the West-End streets at that 
early hour, yet a few were riding in the Park, and when I came 
to the large houses in Lancaster Gate I saw that though the sun 
was shining on the windows most of the blinds were down. 

I must have been walking slowly, for it was half past eight 
when I reached the Marble Arch. There I encountered the 
first cross-tide of traffic, but somebody, seeing baby, took me 
by the arm and led me safely over. 

The great "Mediterranean of Oxford Street" was by this 
time running at full tide. People were pouring out of the 
Tube and Underground stations and clambering on to the 
motor-buses. But in the rush nobody hustled or jostled me. A 
woman with a child in her arms was like a queen everybody 
made way for her. 

Once or twice I stopped to look at the shops. Some of the 
dressmakers' windows were full of beautiful costumes. I did 
not covet any of them. I remembered the costly ones I had 
bought in Cairo and how little happiness they had brought me. 
And then I felt as if the wealth of the world were in my arms. 

Nevertheless the whole feminine soul in me awoke when I 
came upon a shop for the sale of babies' clothes. Already I 
foresaw a time when baby, dressed in pretty things like these, 
would be running about Lennard 's Green and plucking up the 
flowers in Mrs. Oliver's garden. 



I AM LOST 419 

The great street was very long and I thought it would never 
end. But I think I must have been still fresh and happy while 
we passed through the foreign quarter of Soho, for I remember 
that, when two young Italian waiters, standing at the door of 
their cafe, asked each other in their own language which of us 
(baby or I) was "the bambino," I turned to them and smiled. 

Before I came to Chancery Lane, however, baby began to 
cry for her food, and I was glad to slip down a narrow alley 
into Lincoln's Inn Fields and sit on a seat in the garden while 
I gave her the bottle. It was then ten o 'clock, the sun was high 
and the day was becoming hot. 

The languid stillness of the garden after the noise and stir 
of the streets tempted me to stay longer than I had intended, 
and when I resumed my journey I thought the rest must have 
done me good, but before I reached the Holborn Viaduct 
fatigue w r as beginning to gain on me. 

I saw that I must be approaching some great hospital, for 
hospital nurses were now passing me constantly, and one of 
them, who was going my way, stepped up and asked me to 
allow her to carry baby. She looked so sweet and motherly 
that I let her do so, and as we walked along we talked. 

She asked me if I was going far, and I said no, only to the 
other end of London, the edge of the country, to Ilford. 

"Ilford!" she cried. "Why, that's miles and miles away. 
You'll have to 'bus it to Aldgate, then change for Bow, and 
then tram it through Stratford Market. ' ' 

I told her I preferred to walk, being such a good walker, and 
she gave me a searching look, but said no more on that subject. 

Then she asked me how old baby was and whether I was 
nursing her myself, and I answered that baby was six weeks 
and I had been forced to wean her, being supposed to be 
delicate, and besides . . . 

"Ah, perhaps you are putting her out to nurse," she said, 
and I answered yes, and that was the reason I was going to 
Ilford. 

"I see," she said, with another searching look, and then 
it flashed upon me that she had formed her own conclusions 
about what had befallen me. 

When we came to a great building in a side street on the left, 
with ambulance vans passing in and out of a wide gateway, she 
said she was sorry she could not carry baby any further, be- 
cause she was due in the hospital, where the house-doctor would 
be waiting for her. 



420 THE WOMAN THOU GAVEST ME 

"But I hope baby's nurse will be a good one. They're not 
always that, you know." 

I was not quite so happy when the hospital nurse left me. 
The parcel on my wrist was feeling heavier than before, and 
my feet were beginning to drag. But I tried to keep a good 
heart as I faced the crowded thoroughfares Newgate with 
its cruel old prison, the edge of St. Paul's, and the corner of 
St. Martin 's-le-Grand, and so on into Cheapside. 

Cheapside itself was almost impassable. Merchants, brokers, 
clerks, and city men generally in tall silk hats were hurrying 
and sometimes running along the pavement, making me think 
of the river by my father's house, whose myriad little waves 
seemed to my fancy as a child to be always struggling to find 
out which could get to Murphy's Mouth the first and so drown 
itself in the sea. 

People were still very kind to me, though, and if anybody 
brushed me in passing he raised his hat : and if any one pushed 
me accidentally he stopped to say he was sorry. 

Of course baby was the talisman that protected me from 
harm ; and what I should have done without her when I got to 
the Mansion House I do not know, for that seemed to be the 
central heart of all the London traffic, with its motor-buses 
and taxi-cabs going in different directions and its tremendous 
tides of human life flowing every way. 

But just as I was standing, dazed and deafened on the edge 
of a triangle of streets, looking up at a great building that was 
like a rock on the edge of a noisy sea, and bore on its face the 
startling inscription, ' ' The Earth is the Lord 's and the fulness 
thereof," a big policeman, seeing me with baby in my arms, 
held up his hand to the drivers and shouted to the pedestrians 
("Stand a-one side, please"), and then led me safely across, 
as if the Red Sea had parted to let us pass. 

It was then twelve o'clock and baby was once more crying 
for her food, so I looked for a place in which I might rest while 
I gave her the bottle again. 

Suddenly I came upon what I wanted. It seemed to be a 
garden, but it was a graveyard one of the graveyards of the 
old London churches, enclosed by high buildings now, and 
overlooked by office windows. 

Such a restful place, so green, so calm, so beautiful ! Lying 
there in the midst of the tumultuous London traffic, it re- 
minded me of one of the little islands in the middle of our 



I AM LOST 421 

Elian glens, on which the fuchsia and wild rose grow while 
the river rolls and boils about it. 

I had just sat down on a seat that had been built about a 
gnarled and blackened old tree, and was giving baby her food, 
when I saw that a young girl was sitting beside me. 

She was about nineteen years of age, and was eating scones 
out of a confectioner's bag, while she read a paper-covered 
novel. Presently she looked at baby with her little eyes, which 
were like a pair of shinv boot buttons, and said : 

"That your child?"' 

I answered her, and then she asked : 

"Do you like children?" 

I answered her again, and asked her if she did not like them 
also. 

"Can't say I'm particularly gone on them," she said, where- 
upon I replied that that was probably because she had not yet 
had much experience. 

"Oh, haven't I? Perhaps I haven't," she said, and then 
vrith a hard little laugh, she added "Mother's had nine 
though." 

I asked if she was a shop assistant, and with a toss of her 
head she told me she was a typist. 

"Better screw and your evenings off," she said, and then 
she returned to the subject of children. 

One of her chums in the office who used to go out with her 
every night to the music-halls got into trouble a year or two 
ago. As a consequence she had to marry. And what was the 
result ? Never had her nose out of the wash-tub now ! 

The story was crude enough, yet it touched me closely. 

"But couldn't she have put her baby out to nurse and got 
another situation somewhere?" I asked. 

"Matter o' luck," said the girl. "Some can. Some can't. 
That's their look out. Firms don't like it. If they find you've 
got a child they gen 'r 'lly chuck you. ' ' 

In spite of myself I was a little down when I started on my 
journey again. I thought the parcel was cutting my wrist 
and I felt my feet growing heavier at every step. 

TVas Maggie Jones's story the universal one? 

If a child were born beyond the legal limits, was it a thing to 
hide away and be ashamed of? 

And could it be possible that man's law was stronger than 
God's law after all? 



422 THE WOMAN THOU GAVEST ME 

NINETY-THIRD CHAPTER 

I HAD walked so slowly and stopped so often that it was two 
o'clock in the afternoon when I passed through Aldgate. 

I was then faint for want of food, so I looked out for a tea- 
shop or restaurant. 

I passed several such places before I found the modest house 
I wanted. Then I stepped into it rather nervously and took 
the seat nearest the door. 

It was an oblong room with red plush seats along the walls 
behind a line of marble-topped tables. The customers were 
all men, chiefly clerks and warehousemen, I thought, and the 
attendants were girls in black frocks and white aprons. 

There seemed to be a constant fire of free-and-easy flirtation 
going on between them. At one table a man in a cloth cap 
was saying to the girl who had served him : 

"What's the damage, dearie?" 

"One roast, one veg, two breads 'levenpence, and no liber- 
ties, mister." 

"Sunday off, Em'ly?" said a youth in a red tie at another 
table, and being told it was, he said : 

' ' Then what do you say to 'oppin ' up to 'Endon and 'aving 
a day in a boat ? ' ' 

I had to wait some time before anybody came to attend to 
me, but at length a girl from the other end of the room, who 
had taken no part in these amatory exchanges, stepped up and 
asked what I wanted. 

I ordered a glass of cold milk and a scone for myself and a 
pint of hot milk to replenish baby's bottle. 

The girl served me immediately, and after rinsing and refill- 
ing the feeding-bottle she stood near while the baby used it. 

She had quiet eyes and that indefinable expression of yearn- 
ing tenderness which we sometimes see in the eyes of a dear 
old maid who has missed her motherhood. 

The shop had been clearing rapidly ; and as soon as the men 
were gone, and while the other girls were sitting in corners to 
read penny novelettes, my waitress leaned over and asked me 
if I did not wish to go into the private room to attend to baby. 

A moment afterwards I followed her into a small apartment 
at the end of the shop, and there a curious thing occurred. 

She closed the door behind us and asked me in an eager 
whisper to allow her to see to baby. 



I AM LOST 423 

I tried to excuse myself, but she whispered: 

''Hush! I have a baby of my own, though they know 
nothing about it here, so you can safely trust me." 

I did so, and it was beautiful to see the joy she had in 
doing what was wanted, saying all sorts of sweet and gentle 
things to my baby (though I knew they were meant for her 
own), as if the starved mother-heart in her were stealing a 
moment of maternal tenderness. 

' ' There ! " she said. ' ' She '11 be comfortable now, bless her ! " 

I asked about her own child, and, coming close and speaking 
in a whisper, she told me all about it. 

It was a girl and it would be a year old at Christmas. At 
first she had put it out to nurse in town, where she could see it 
every evening, but the foster-mother had neglected it, and the 
Inspector had complained, so she had been compelled to take 
it away. Now it was in a Home in the country, ten miles 
from Liverpool Street, and it was as bonny as a peach and as 
happy as the day is long. 

' ' See, ' ' she whispered, taking a card from her breast, after 
a furtive glance towards the door. "I sent two shillings to 
have her photograph taken and the Matron has just sent it." 

It was the picture of a beautiful baby girl, and I found it 
easy to praise her. 

"I suppose you see her constantly, don't you?" I said. 

The girl's face dropped. 

"Only on visiting days, once a month, and not always that," 
she answered. 

' ' But how can you live without seeing her of tener ? " I asked. 

"Matter o' means," she said sadly. "I pay five shillings 
a Aveek for her board, and the train is one-and-eight return, 
so I have to be careful, you see, and if I lost my place what 
would happen to baby?" 

I was very low and tired and down when I resumed my 
walk. But when I thought for a moment of taking omnibuses 
for the rest of my journey I remembered the waitress's story 
and told myself that the little I had belonged to my child, and 
so I struggled on. 

But what a weary march it was during the next two hours ! 
I was in the East End now, and remembering the splendour of 
the West, I could scarcely believe I was still in London. 

Long, mean, monotonous streets, running off to right and 
left, miles on miles of them without form or feature, or any 
trace of nature except the blue strips of sky overhead. 



424 THE WOMAN THOU GAVEST ME 

Such multitudes of people, often badly dressed and generally 
with set and anxious faces, hasting to and fro, hustling, elbow- 
ing, jostling each other along, as if driven by some invisible 
power that was swinging an unseen scourge. 

No gracious courtesy here! A woman with a child in her 
arms was no longer a queen. Children were cheap, and some- 
times it was as much as I could do to save myself from being 
pushed off the pavement. 

The air seemed to smell of nothing but ale and coarse 
tobacco. And then the noise! The ceaseless clatter of carts, 
the clang of electric cars, the piercing shrieks of the Under- 
ground Eailway coming at intervals out of the bowels of the 
earth like explosions out of a volcano, and, above all, the 
raucous, rasping, high-pitched voices of the people, often foul- 
mouthed, sometimes profane, too frequently obscene. 

A cold, grey, joyless, outcast city, cut off from the rest of 
London by an invisible barrier more formidable than a wall ; 
a city in which the inhabitants seemed to live cold, grey, 
joyless lives, all the same that they joked and laughed ; a city 
under perpetual siege, the siege of Poverty, in the constant 
throes of civil war, the "War of Want, the daily and hourly 
fight for food. 

If there were other parts of the East End (and I am sure 
there must be) where people live simple, natural, human lives, 
I did not see them that day, for my course was down the 
principal thoroughfares only. 

Those thoroughfares, telescoping each other, one after an- 
other, seemed as if they would never come to an end. 

How tired I was ! Even baby was no longer light, and the 
parcel on my wrist had become as heavy as lead. 

Towards four o'clock I came to a broad parapet which had 
strips of garden enclosed by railings and iron seats in front of 
them. Utterly exhausted, my arms aching and my legs limp, 
I sank into one of these seats, feeling that I could walk no 
farther. 

But after a while I felt better, and then I became aware 
that another woman was sitting beside me. 

When I looked at her first I thought I had never in my life 
seen anything so repulsive. She was asleep, and having that 
expressionless look which sleep gives, I found it impossible 
to know whether she was young or old. She was not merely 
coarse, she was gross. The womanhood in her seemed to be 
effaced, and I thought she was uterly brutalised and degraded. 



I AM LOST 425 

Presently baby, who had also been asleep, awoke and cried, 
and then the woman opened her eyes and looked at the child, 
while I hushed her to sleep again. 

There must be something in a baby 's face that has a miracu- 
lous effect on every woman (as if these sweet angels, fresh 
from God, make us all young and all beautiful), and it was 
even so at that moment. 

Never shall I forget the transfiguration in the woman 's face 
when she looked into the face of my baby. The expression of 
brutality and degradation disappeared, and through the 
bleared eyes and over the coarsened features there came the 
light of an almost celestial smile. 

After a while the woman spoke to me. She spoke in a 
husky voice which seemed to be compounded of the effects of 
rum and raw night air. 

"That your 'n," she said. 

I answered her. 

"Boy or gel?" 

I told her. 

"'Owold?" 

I told her that too. 

The woman was silent for a moment, and then, with a 
thickening of the husky voice, she said: 

"S'pose you'll say I'm a bleedin' liar, but I 'ad a kid as 
putty as that onct puttier. It was a boy. The nobbiest little 
b - as you ever come acrost. Your'n is putty, but it ain't 
in it with my Billie, not by a long chalk." 

I asked her what had become of her child. 

"Lawst 'im," she said. "Used to give sixpence a week to 
the woman what 'ad 'alf the 'ouse with me to look after 'im 
while I was workin' at the fact'ry. But what did the bleedin' 

b do? Blimey, if she didn't let 'im get run over by the 

dray from the brewery. ' ' 

"Killed?" I said, clutching at baby. 

The woman nodded without speaking. 

I asked her how old her child had been. 

' ' More 'n four, ' ' she said. ' ' Just old enough to run a arrand. 
It was crool. Hit me out, I can tell you. That kid was all I 
had. Apple o' my eye, in a manner of speakin'. When it 
was gone there wasn't much encouragement, was there? The 
Favver from the Mission came jawin' as 'ow Jesus 'ad taken 
'im to 'Imself . Rot ! When they put 'im down in old Bow 
I didn't care no more for nothin'. Monse and monse I walked 



426 THE WOMAN THOU GAVEST ME 

about night and day, and the bleedin ' coppers was allus on to 
me. They got their own way at last. I took the pneumonier 
and was laid up at the London. And when I got out I didn't 
go back to the fact'ry neither." 

"What did you do?" I asked. 

The woman laughed bitterly, terribly. 

"Do? Don't you know?" 

I shook my head. The woman looked hard at me, and then 
at the child. 

' ' Look here are you a good gel ? " she said. 

Hardly knowing what she meant I answered that I hoped so. 

"'Ope? Don't you know that neither?" 

Then I caught her meaning, and answered faintly: 

"Yes." 

She looked searchingly into my eyes and said : 

" I b 'lieve you. Some gels is. S 'elp me Gawd I don 't know 
how they done it, though." 

I was shuddering and trembling, for I was catching glimpses, 
as if by broken lights from hell, of the life behind the 
wrecked hope, the shattered faith, the human being hunted like 
a beast and at last turned into one. 

Just at that moment baby awoke and cried again. The 
woman looked at her with the same look as before not so 
much a smile as- a sort of haggard radiance. 

Then leaning over me she blew puffs of alcoholic breath into 
baby's face, and stretching out a coarse fat finger she tickled 
her under the chin. 

Baby ceased to cry and began to smile. Seeing this the 
woman 's eyes sparkled like sunshine. 

"See that," she cried. "S'elp me Jesus, I b 'lieve I could 
'ave been good meself if I'd on'y 'ad somethink like this to 
keer for. ' ' 

I am not ashamed to say that more than once there had been 
tears in my eyes while the woman spoke, though her blas- 
phemies had corrupted the air like the gases that rise from 
a dust-heap. But when she touched my child I shuddered as 
if something out of the lowest depths had tainted her. 

Then a strange thing happened. 

I had risen to go, although my limbs could scarcely support 
me, and was folding my little angel closely in my arms, when 
the woman rose too and said: 

"You wouldn't let me carry your kiddie a bit, would you?" 

I tried to excuse myself, saying something, I know not what. 



I AM LOST 427 

The woman looked at me again, and after a moment she said : 

"S'pose not. On'y I thought it might make me think as 
'ow I was carryin' Billie. " 

That swept down everything. 

The one remaining window of the woman's soul was open 
and I dared not close it. 

I looked down at my child so pure, so sweet, so stainless; 
I looked up at the woman so foul, so gross, so degraded. 

There was a moment of awful struggle and then . . . 
the woman and I were walking side by side. 

And the harlot was carrying my baby down the street. 

NINETY-FOURTH CHAPTER 

AT five o'clock I was once more alone. 

I was then standing (with baby in my own arms now) under 
the statue which is at the back of Bow Church. 

I thought I could walk no farther, and although every penny 
I had in my pocket belonged to Isabel (being all that yet 
stood between her and want) I must borrow a little of it if 
she was to reach Mrs. Oliver's that night. 

I waited for the first tram that was going in my direction, 
and when it came up I signalled to it, but it did not stop it 
was full. 

I waited for a second tram, but that was still more crowded. 

I reproached myself for having come so far. I told myself 
how ill-advised I had been in seeking for a nurse for my child 
at the farthest end of the city. I reminded myself that I could 
not hope to visit her every day if my employment was to be 
in the West, as I had always thought it would be. I asked 
myself if in all this vast London, with its myriads of homes, 
there had been no house nearer that could have sheltered my 
child. 

Against all this I had to set something, or I think my very 
heart would have died there and then. I set the thought of 
Ilford, on the edge of the country, with its green fields and its 
flowers. I set the thought of Mrs. Oliver, who would love my 
child as tenderly as if she were her own little lost one. 

I dare say it was all very weak and childish, but it is just 
when we are done and down, and do not know what we are 
doing, that Providence seems to be directing us, and it was so 
with me at that moment. 

The trams being full I had concluded that Fate had set 



428 THE WOMAN THOU GAYEST ME 

itself against my spending any of Isabel's money, and had 
made up my mind to make a fierce fight over the last stage of 
my journey, when I saw that a little ahead of where I was 
standing the road divided into two branches at an acute angle, 
one branch going to the right and the other to the left. 

Not all Emmer jane's instructions about keeping "as straight 
as a' arrow" sufficed to show me which of the two roads to 
take and I looked about for somebody to tell me. 

It was then that I became aware of a shabby old four- 
wheeled cab which stood in the triangular space in front of the 
statue, and of the driver (an old man, in a long coachman's 
coat, much worn and discoloured, and a dilapidated tall hat, 
very shiny in patches) looking at me while he took the nose- 
bag off his horse a bony old thing with its head hanging 
down. 

I stepped up to him and asked my way, and he pointed it 
out to me to the right, over the bridge and through Stratford 
Market. 

I asked how far it was to Ilford. 

"Better nor two mile / call it," he answered. 

After that, being so tired in brain as well as body, I asked a 
foolish question how long it would take me to get there. 

The old driver looked at me again, and said : 

' ' 'Bout a 'our and a 'alf I should say by the looks of you 
and you carryin ' the biby. ' ' 

I dare say my face dropped sadly as I turned away, feeling 
very tired, yet determined to struggle through. But hardly 
had I walked twenty paces when I heard' the cab coming up 
behind and the old driver crying: 

"'Old on, missie." 

I stopped, and to my surprise he drew up by my side, got 
down from his box, opened the door of his cab and said : 

"Gerin." 

I told him I could not afford to ride. 

"Ger in," he said again more loudly, and as if angry with 
himself for having to say it. 

Again I made some demur, and then the old man said, 
speaking fiercely through his grizzly beard: 

"Look 'ere, missie. I 'ave a gel o' my own lost somewheres, 
and I wouldn't be ans'rable to my ole woman if I let you 
walk with a face like that." 

I don't know what I said to him. I only know that my tears 



I AM LOST 429 

gushed out and that at the next moment I was sitting in the 
cab. 

What happened then I do not remember, except that the 
dull rumble of the wheels told me we were passing over a 
bridge, and that I saw through the mist before my eyes a slug- 
gish river, a muddy canal, and patches of marshy fields. 

I think my weariness and perhaps my emotion, added to the 
heavy monotonous trotting of the old horse, must have put me 
to sleep, for after a while I was conscious of a great deal of 
noise, and of the old driver twisting about and shouting in & 
cheerful voice through the open window at the back of his seat : 

"Stratford Market." 

After a while we came to a broad road, full of good houses, 
and then the old driver cried ' ' Ilf ord, ' ' and asked what part of 
it I wished to go to. 

I reached forward and told him, "10 Lennard's Row, Len- 
nard's Green," and then sat back with a lighter heart. 

But after another little while I saw a great many funeral 
cars passing us, with the hearses empty, as if returning from a 
cemetery. This made me think of the woman and her story, 
and I found myself unconsciously clasping my baby closer. 

The corteges became so numerous at last that to shut out 
painful sights I closed my eyes and tried to think of pleasanter 
things. 

I thought, above all, of Mrs. Oliver's house, as I had always 
seen it in my mind 's eye not a pretentious place at all, only 
a little humble cottage but very sweet and clean, covered with 
creepers and perhaps with roses. 

I was still occupied with these visions when I felt the cab 
turn sharply to the left. Then opening my eyes I saw that we 
were running down a kind of alley-way, with a row of very 
mean little two-storey houses on the one side, and on the other, 
a kind of waste ground strewn with broken bottles, broken iron 
pans, broken earthenware and other refuse, interspersed with 
tufts of long scraggy grass, which looked the more wretched 
because the sinking sun was glistening over it. 

Suddenly the cab slowed down and stopped. Then the old 
man jumped from his box and opening his cab door, said : 

"Here you are, missie. This is your destingnation. " 

There must have been a moment of semi-consciousness in 
which I got out of the cab, for when I came to full possession 
of myself I was standing on a narrow pavement in front of a 
closed door which bore the number 10. 



430 THE WOMAN THOU GAYEST ME 

At first I was stunned. Then my heart was in my mouth, 
and it was as much as I could do not to burst out crying. 
Finally I wanted to fly, and I turned back to the cab, but it 
had gone and was already passing round the corner. 

It was six o 'clock. I was very tired. I was nine miles from 
Bayswater. I could not possibly carry baby back. What 
could I do ? 

Then, my brain being unable to think, a mystic feeling (born 
perhaps of my life in the convent) came over me a feeling 
that all that had happened on my long journey, all I had seen 
and everything that had been said to me, had been intended to 
prepare me for (and perhaps to save me from) the dangers 
that were to come. 

I think that gave me a certain courage, for with what 
strength of body and spirit I had left (though my heart was 
in my mouth still) I stepped across the pavement and knocked 
at the door. 

MEMORANDUM BY MARTIN CONRAD 

My great-hearted, heroic little woman ! 

All this time I, in my vain belief that our expedition was of 
some consequence to the world, was trying to comfort myself 
with the thought that my darling must have heard of my 
safety. 

But how could I imagine that she had hidden herself away 
in a mass of humanity which appears to be the most impene- 
trable depths into which a human being can disappear? 

How could I dream that, to the exclusion of all such inter- 
ests as mine, she was occupied day and night, night and day, 
with the joys and sorrows, the raptures and fears of the 
mighty passion of Motherhood, which" seems to be the only 
thing in life that is really great and eternal ? 

Above all, how could I believe that in London itself, in the 
heart of tto& civilised and religious world, she was going 
through trials which make mine, in the grim darkness of the 
Polar night, seem trivial and easy? 

It is all over now, and though, thank God, I did not know 
at the time what was happening to my dear one at home, it 
is some comfort to me to remember that I was acting exactly 
as if I did. 

From the day we turned back I heard my darling's voice no 
more. But I had a still more perplexing and tormenting 



I AM LOST 431 

experience, and that was a dream about her, in which she was 
walking on a crevassed glacier towards a precipice which she 
could not see because the brilliant rays of the aurora were in 
her eyes. 

Anybody may make what he likes of that on grounds of 
natural law, and certainly it was not surprising that my 
dreams should speak to me in pictures drawn from the perils 
of my daily life, but only one thing matters now that these 
experiences of my sleeping hours increased my eagerness to 
get back to my dear one. 

My comrades were no impediment to that, I can tell you. 
With their faces turned homewards, and the wind at their 
backs, they were showing tremendous staying power, although 
we had thirty and forty below zero pretty constantly, with, 
rough going all the time, for the snow had been ruckled up by 
the blizzard to almost impassable heaps and hummocks. 

On reaching our second installation at Mount Darwin I sent 
a message to the men at the foot of Mount Erebus, telling them 
to get into communication (through Macquarie Island) with 
the captain of our ship in New Zealand, asking him to return 
for us as soon as the ice conditions would permit; and this 
was the last of our jobs (except packing our instruments tight 
and warm) before we started down the "long white gateway" 
for our quarters at the Cape. 

With all the heart in the world, though, our going had to be 
slow. It was the middle of the Antarctic winter, when absolute 
night reigned for weeks and we had nothing to alleviate the 
darkness but the light of the scudding moon, and sometimes the 
glory of the aurora as it encircled the region of the unrisen 
sun. 

Nevertheless my comrades sang their way home through the 
sullen gloom. Sometimes I wakened the echoes of those 
desolate old hills myself with a stave of "Sally's the gel," 
although I was suffering a good deal from my darker thoughts 
of what the damnable hypocrisies of life might be doing with 
my darling, and my desire to take my share of her trouble 
whatever it might be. 

The sun returned the second week in August. Nobody can 
know what relief that brought us except those who have lived 
for months without it. To see the divine and wonderful thing 
rise up like a god over those lone white regions is to know 
what a puny thing man is in the scheme of the world. 

I think all of us felt like that at sight of the sun, though 



432 THE WOMAN THOU GAVEST ME 

some (myself among the rest) were thinking more of it as a 
kind of message from friends at home. But old Treacle, I 
remember, who had stood looking at it in awed solemnity, said : 

"Well, I'm d !" 

After that we got on famously until we reached Winter 
Quarters, where we found everybody well and everything in 
order, but received one piece of alarming intelligence that 
the attempt to get into wireless communication with our ship 
had failed, with the result that we should have to wait for her 
until the time originally appointed for her return. 

That did not seem to matter much to my shipmates, who, 
being snugly housed from blinding blizzards, settled down to 
amuse themselves with sing-songs and story-tellings and 
readings. 

But, do what I would, to me the delay was dreadful, and 
every day, in the fever of my anxiety to get away as soon as 
the ice permitted, I climbed the slopes of old Erebus with 
'Sullivan, to look through powerful glasses- for what the 
good chap called the "open wather." 

Thank God, our wooden house was large enough to admit 
of my having a cabin to myself, for I should have been 
ashamed of my comrades hearing the cries that sometimes burst 
from me in the night. 

It is hard for civilised men at home, accustomed to hold 
themselves under control, to realise how a man's mind can 
run away from him when he is thousands of miles separated 
from his dear ones, and has a kind of spiritual certainty that 
evil is befalling them. 

I don ? t think I am a bigger fool than most men in that way, 
but I shiver even yet at the memory of all the torment I went 
through during those days of waiting, for my whole life 
seemed to revolve before me and I accused myself of a thou- 
sand offences which I had thought dead and buried and 
forgotten. 

Some of these were trivial in themselves, such as hot and 
intemperate words spoken in childhood to my good old people 
at home, disobedience or ingratitude shown to them, with all 
the usual actions of a naughty boy, who ought to have been 
spanked and never was. 

But the worst of them concerned my darling, and came with 
the thought of my responsibility for the situation in which I 
felt sure she found herself. 

A thousand times I took myself to task for that, thinking 



I AM LOST 433 

what I ought and ought not to have done, and then giving 
myself every bad name and my conduct every damning 
epithet. 

Up and down my cabin I would walk with hands buried in 
my pockets, revolving these thoughts and working myself up, 
against my will, to a fever of regret and self -accusation. 

Talk about Purgatory the Purgatory of dear old Father 
Dan ! That was to come after death mine came before, and 
by the holy saints, I had enough of it. 

Two months passed like this; and when the water of the 
Sound was open and our ship did not appear, mine was not 
the only heart that was eating itself out, for the spirits of my 
shipmates had also begun to sink. 

In the early part of the Antarctic spring there had been a 
fearful hurricane lasting three days on the sea, with a shriek- 
ing, roaring chorus of fiends outside, and the conviction now 
forced itself on my men that our ship must have gone down 
in the storm. 

Of course I fought this notion hard, for my last hopes were 
based on not believing it. But when after the lapse of weeks 
I could hold out no longer, and we were confronted by the 
possibility of being held there another year (for how were our 
friends to know before the ice formed again that it was neces- 
sary to send relief?), I faced the situation firmly measuring 
out our food and putting the men on shortened rations, 
twenty-eight ounces each and a thimbleful of brandy. 

By the Lord God it is a fearful thing to stand face to face 
with slow death. Some of my. shipmates could scarcely bear 
it. The utter solitude, the sight of the same faces and the 
sound of the same voices, with the prospect of nothing else, 
seemed to drive most of them nearly mad. 

There was no sing-songing among them now, and what 
speaking I overheard was generally about the great dinners 
they had eaten, or about their dreams, which were usually of 
green fields and . flower-beds and primroses and daisies 
daisies, by heaven, in a world that was like a waste ! 

As for me I did my best to play the game of never giving 
up. It was a middling hard game, God knows, and after 
weeks of waiting a sense of helplessness settled down on me 
such as I had never known before. 

I am not what is called a religious man, but when I thought 
of my darling's danger (for such I was sure it was) and how 
I was cut off from her by thousands of miles of impassable 

2E 



434 

sea, there came an overwhelming longing to go with my 
troubles to somebody stronger than myself. 

I found it hard to do that at first, for a feeling of shame 
came over me, and I thought: 

"You coward, you forgot all about God when things were 
going well with you, but now that they are tumbling down, 
and death seems certain, you whine and want to go where you 
never dreamt of going in your days of ease and strength." 

I got over that, though there's nothing except death a 
man doesn't get over down there and a dark night came 
when (the ice breaking from the cliffs of the Cape with a 
sound that made me think of my last evening at Castle Raa) I 
found myself folding my hands and praying to the God of 
my childhood, not for myself but for my dear one, that He 
before whom the strongest of humanity were nothing at all, 
would take her into His Fatherly keeping. 

"Help her! Help her! / can do no more." 

It was just when I was down to that extremity that it 
pleased Providence to come to my relief. The very next 
morning I was awakened out of my broken sleep by the sound 
of a gun, followed by such a yell from Treacle as was enough 
to make you think the sea-serpent had got hold of his old 
buttocks. 

' ' The ship ! The ship ! Commander ! Commander ! The 
ship! The ship!" 

And, looking out of my little window I saw him, with six or 
seven other members of our company, half naked, just as they 
had leapt out of their bunks, running like savages to the 
edge of the sea, where the "Scotia," with all flags flying 
(God bless and preserve her!), was steaming slowly up 
through a grinding pack of broken ice. 

What a day that was! What shouting! What hand- 
shaking! For 'Sullivan it was Donnybrook Fair with the 
tail of his coat left out, and for Treacle it was Whitechapel 
Road with "What cheer, old cock?" and an unquenchable 
desire to stand treat all round. 

But what I chiefly remember is that the moment I awoke, 
and before the idea that we were saved and about to go home 
had been fully grasped by my hazy brain, the thought flashed 
to my mind: 

"Now you'll hear of her!" 

M. C. 
[END OF MARTIN CONRAD'S MEMORANDUM] 



I AM LOST 435 

NINETY-FIFTH CHAPTER 

THE door of No. 10 was opened by a rather uncomely woman 
of perhaps thirty years of age, with a weak face and watery 
eyes. 

This was Mrs. Oliver, and it occurred to me even at that 
first sight that she had the frightened and evasive look of a 
wife who lives under the intimidation of a tyrannical husband. 

She welcomed me, however, with a warmth that partly dis- 
pelled my depression and I followed her into the kitchen. 

It was the only room on the ground floor of her house 
(except a scullery) and it seemed sweet and clean and com- 
fortable, having a table in the middle of the floor, a sofa 
under the window, a rocking-chair on one side of the fireplace, 
a swinging baby's cot on the other side, and nothing about 
it that was not homelike and reassuring, except two large 
photographs over the mantelpiece of men stripped to the 
waist and sparring. 

"We've been looking for you all day, ma'am, and had 
nearly give you up," she said. 

Then she took baby out of my arms, removed her bonnet 
and pelisse, lifted her barrow-coat to examine her limbs, asked 
her age, kissed her on the arms, the neck and the legs, and 
praised her without measure. 

"And what's her name, ma'am?" 

"Mary Isabel, but I wish her to be called Isabel." 

' ' Isabel ! A beautiful name too ! Fit for a angel, ma 'am. 
And she is a little angel, bless her ! Such rosy cheeks ! Such 
a ducky little mouth ! Such blue eyes blue as the blue-bells 
in the eemet'ry. She's as pretty as a waxwork, she really is, 
and any woman in the world might be proud to nurse her. ' ' 

A young mother is such a weakling that praise of her 
child (how r ever crude) acts like a charm on her, and in spite 
of myself I was beginning to feel more at ease, when Mrs. 
Oliver's husband came downstairs. 

He was a short, thick-set man of about thirty-five, with a 
square chin, a very thick neck and a close-cropped red bullet 
head, and he was in his stocking feet and shirt-sleeves as if 
he had been dressing to go out for the evening. 

I remember that it flashed upon me I don't know why 
that he had seen me from the window of the room upstairs, 
driving up in the old man's four-wheeler, and had drawn 



436 THE WOMAN THOU GAYEST ME 

from that innocent circumstance certain deductions about my 
character and my capacity to pay. 

I must have been right, for as soon as our introduction was 
over and I had interrupted Mrs. Oliver's praises of my baby's 
beauty by speaking about material matters, saying the terms 
were to be four shillings, the man, who had seated himself on 
the sofa to put on his boots said, in a voice that was like a 
shot out of a blunderbus: 

"Five." 

"How'd you mean, Ted?" said Mrs. Oliver, timidly. 
"Didn't we say four?" 

"Five," said the man again, with a still louder volume of 
voice. 

I could see that the poor woman was trembling, but assum- 
ing the sweet air of persons who live in a constant state of 
fear, she said: 

" Oh yes. It was five, now I remember." 

I reminded her that her letter had said four, but she 
insisted that I must be mistaken, and when I told her I had 
the letter with me and she could see it if she wished, she said : 

"Then it must have been a slip of the pen in a manner of 
speaking, ma'am. We allus talked of five. Didn't we, Ted?" 

' ' Certainly, ' ' said her husband, who was still busy with his 
boots. 

I saw what was going on, and I felt hot and angry, but 
there seemed to be nothing to do except submit. 

"Very well, we'll say five then," I said. 

"Paid in advance," said the man, and when I answered 
that that would suit me very well, he added: 

"A month in advance, you know." 

By this time I felt myself trembling with indignation, as 
well as quivering with fear, for while I looked upon all the 
money I possessed as belonging to baby, to part with almost 
the whole of it in one moment would reduce me to utter help- 
lessness, so I said, turning to Mrs. Oliver: 

"Is that usual?" 

It did not escape me that the unhappy woman was con- 
stantly studying her husband's face, and when he glanced up 
at her with a meaning look she answered, hurriedly: 

"Oh yes, ma'am, quite usual. All the women in the Row 
has it. Number five, she has twins and gets a month in 
hand with both of them. But we'll take four weeks and I 
can't say no fairer than that, can I?" 



I AM LOST 437 

"But why?" I asked. 

"Well, you see, ma'am, you're . . . you're a stranger to 
us, and if baby was left on our hands . . . Not as we think 
you'd leave her chargeable as the saying is, but if you were 
ever ill, and got a bit back with your payments ... we 
being only pore people. ..." 

While the poor woman was floundering on in this way my 
blood was boiling and I was beginning to ask her if she sup- 
posed for one moment that I meant to desert my child, when 
the man, who had finished the lacing of his boots, rose to his 
feet, and said: 

' ' You don 't want yer baiby to be give over to the Guardians 
for the sake of a week or two, do you ? ' ' 

That settled everything. I took out my purse and with a 
trembling hand laid my last precious sovereign on the table. 

A moment or two after this Mr. Oliver, who had put on his 
coat and a cloth cap, made for the door. 

"Evenin', ma'am," he said, and with what grace I could 
muster I bade him good-bye. 

"You aren't a-going to the 'Sun' to-night, are you, Ted?" 
asked Mrs. Oliver. 

' ' Club, ' ' said the man, and the door clashed behind him. 

I breathed more freely when he was gone, and his wife 
(from whose face the look of fear vanished instantly) was 
like another woman. 

"Goodness gracious," she cried, with a kind of haggard 
hilarity, " where 's my. head? Me never offering you a cup 
of tea, and you looking so white after your journey." 

I took baby back into my arms while she put on the kettle, 
set a black tea-pot on the hob to warm, laid a piece of table- 
cloth and a thick cup and saucer on the end of the table, and 
then knelt on the fender to toast a little bread, talking mean- 
time (half apologetically and half proudly) about her husband. 

He was a bricklayer by trade, and sometimes worked at the 
cemetery which I could see at the other side of the road 
(behind the long railings and the tall trees), but was more 
generally engaged as a sort of fighting lieutenant to a Labour 
leader whose business it was to get up strikes. Before they 
were married he had been the "Light Weight Champion of 
Whitechapel, " and those were photos of his fights which I 
could see over the mantelpiece, but "he never did no knock- 
ing of people about now," being "quiet and matrimonual. " 

In spite of myself my heart warmed to the woman. I 



438 THE WOMAN THOU G A VEST ME 

wonder it did not occur to me there and then that, living in 
constant dread of her tyrannical husband, she would always 
be guilty of the dissimulation I had seen an example of al- 
ready and that the effect of it would be reflected upon my 
child. 

It did not. I only told myself that she was clearly fond of 
children and would be a kind nurse to my baby. It even 
pleased me, in my foolish motherly selfishness, that she was a 
plain-featured person, whom baby could never come to love 
as she would, I was sure, love me. 

I felt better after I had taken tea, and as it was then seven 
o'clock, and the sun was setting horizontally through the 
cypresses of the cemetery, I knew it was time to go. 

I could not do that, though, without undressing baby and 
singing her to sleep. And even then I sat for a while with an 
aching heart, and Isabel on my knee, thinking of how I should 
have to go to bed that night, for the first time, without her. 

Mrs. Oliver, in the meantime, examining the surplus linen 
which I had brought in my parcel, was bursting into 
whispered cries of delight over it, and, being told I had made 
the clothes myself, was saying: 

"What a wonderful seamstress you might be if you liked, 
ma 'am. ' ' 

At length the time came to leave baby, and no woman 
knows the pain of that experience who has not gone through it. 

Though I really believed my darling would be loved and 
cared for, and knew she would never miss me, or yet know 
that I was gone (there was a pang even in that thought, and 
in every other kind of comforting ) , I could not help it, that, 
as I was putting my cherub into her cot, my tears rained 
down on her little face and awakened her, so that I had to 
kneel by her side and rock her to sleep again. 

"You 11 be good to my child, won't you, Mrs. Oliver?" I 
said. 

" 'Deed I will, ma'am," the woman replied. 

"You'll bath her every day, will you not?" 

"Night and morning. I allus does, ma'am." 

"And rinse out her bottle and see that she has nice new 
milk fresh from the cow?" 

"Sure as sure, ma'am. But don't you fret no more about 
the child, ma'am. I've been a mother myself, ma'am, and 
111 be as good to your little angel as if she was my own 
come back to me. ' ' 



I AM LOST 439 

"God bless you," I said in a burst of anguish, and after 
remaining a moment longer on my knees by the cot (speaking 
with all my heart and soul, though neither to nurse nor to 
baby) I rose to my feet, dashed the tears from my eyes, and 
ran out of the house. 



NINETY-SIXTH CHAPTER 

I KNEW that my eyes were not fit to be seen in the streets, so 
I dropped my dark veil and hurried along, being conscious 
of nothing for some time except the clang of electric cars and 
the bustle of passers-by, to whom my poor little sorrow was 
nothing at all. 

But I had not gone far I think I had not, though my 
senses were confused and vague before I began to feel 
ashamed, to take myself to task, and to ask what I had to 
cry about. 

If I had parted from my baby it was for her own good, and 
if I had paid away my last sovereign I had provided for her 
for a month, I had nothing to think of now except myself 
and how to get work. 

I never doubted that I should get work, or that I should 
get it immediately, the only open question being what work 
and where. 

Hitherto I had thought that, being quick with my pen, I 
might perhaps become secretary to somebody; but now, 
remembering the typist's story ("firms don't like it"), and 
wishing to run no risks in respect of my child, I put that 
expectation away and began to soar to higher things. 

How vain they were! Remembering some kind words the 
Reverend Mother had said about me at the convent (where I 
had taken more prizes than Alma, though I had never men- 
tioned it before) I told myself that I, too, was an educated 
woman. ' I knew Italian, French and German, and having 
heard that some women could make a living by translating 
books for publishers I thought I might do the same. 

Nay, I could even write books myself. I was sure I could 
one book at all events, about friendless girls who have to face 
the world for themselves, and all good women would read it 
(some good men also), because they would see that it must 
be true. 

Oh, how vain were my thoughts! Yet in another sense 



440 

they were not all vanity, for I was not thinking of fame, or 
what people would say about what I should write, but only 
what I should get for it. 

I should get money, not a great deal perhaps, yet enough 
for baby and me, that we might have that cottage in the 
country, covered with creepers and roses, where Isabel would 
run about the grass by and by, and pluck the flowers in the 
garden. 

' ' So what have you got to cry about, you ridiculous thing, ' ' 
I thought while I hurried along, with a high step now, as if 
my soul had been in my feet. 

But a mother's visions of the future are like a mirage 
(always gleaming with the fairy palaces which her child is to 
inhabit some day), and I am not the first to find her shadows 
fade away. 

I must have been walking for some time, feeling no weari- 
ness at all, when I came to the bridge by Bow Church. There 
I had intended to take a tram, but not being tired I went on 
farther, thinking every stage I could walk would be so much 
money to the good. 

I was deep in the Mile End Eoad, when a chilling thought 
came to me. It was the thought of the distance that would 
divide me from my child, making my visits to her difficult, 
and putting it out of my power to reach her quickly (perhaps 
even to know in time) if, as happened to children, she be- 
came suddenly and dangerously ill. 

I remembered the long line of telescoping thoroughfares I 
had passed through earlier in the day (with their big hospitals, 
their big breweries, their big tabernacles, their workmen's 
lodging-houses, their Cinema picture palaces, their Jewish 
theatres, and their numberless public houses) ; and then the 
barrier of squalid space which would divide me from baby, if 
I obtained employment in the "West End, seemed to be im- 
measurably greater and more frightening than the space 
that had divided me from Martin when he was at the other 
end of the world. 

Not all the allurements of my dream were sufficient to 
reconcile me to such a dangerous separation. 

"It's impossible," I thought. "Quite impossible." 

Insensibly my rapid footsteps slackened. When I reached 
that part of the Mile End Road in which the Jewish tailors 
live, and found myself listening to a foreign language which I 
afterwards knew to be Yiddish, and looking at men with 



I AM LOST 441 

curls at each side of their sallow faces, slithering along as if 
they were wearing eastern slippers without heels, I stopped, 
without knowing why, at the corner of a street where an 
Italian organ-man was playing while a number of bright- 
eyed Jewish children danced. 

I was still looking on, hardly thinking of what I saw, when 
my eyes fell on an advertisement, pasted on the window of a 
sausage-and-ham shop at the corner. In large written char- 
acters it ran: 

Seamstress Wanted. Good Wages. 
Apply No. Washington Street. 

How little are the things on which our destiny seems to 
hang! In a moment I was remembering what Mrs. Oliver 
had said about my being a good seamstress; and, almost be- 
fore I knew what I was about, I was hurrying up the side 
street and knocking with my knuckles at an open door. 

A rather fat and elderly Jewess, covered with rings and 
gold chains, and wearing a manifest black wig, came from a 
room at one side of the lobby. I explained my errand, and 
after she had looked me over in a sort of surprise, as if I had 
not been the kind of person she expected, she said, in a nasal 
and guttural voice: 

"Vait! My daughter, she speaks very veil Ainglish. " 

Then turning her head over her shoulder, she pitched her 
voice several octaves higher and cried, "Miriam," whereupon 
there came tripping downstairs a Jewish girl of about 
eighteen, with large black eyes, thick black hair, and such a 
dear* good face. 

I repeated my application, and after the girl had in- 
terpreted my request to her mother, I was asked into the 
lobby, and put through a kind of catechism. 

Was I a seamstress? No, but I wished to become one. 
Had I aiver vorked on vaistcoats? I hadn't, but I could do 
anything with my needle. 

Perhaps the urgency of my appeal, and more probably the 
pressure of her own need, weighed with the Jewess, for after 
reflection, and an eager whisper from her daughter (who was 
looking at me with kindling eyes), she said, 

"Very veil, veil see what she can do." 

I was then taken into a close and stuffy room where a 
number of girls (all Jewish as I could see) were working on 
sections of waistcoats, which, lying about on every side, 



442 THE WOMAN THOU GAYEST ME 

looked like patterns for legs of mutton. One girl was basting, 
another was pressing, and a third was sewing button-holes 
with a fine silk twist round bars of gimp. 

This last was the work which was required of me, and I 
was told to look and see if I could do it. I watched the girl 
for a moment and then said: 

"Let me try." 

Needle and twist and one of the half vests were then given 
to me, and after ten minutes I had worked my first button- 
hole and handed it back. 

The daughter praised it warmly, but the mother said: 

"Very fair, but a leedle slow." 

"Let me try again," I said, and my trembling fingers 
were so eager to please that my next button-hole was not only 
better but more quickly made. 

"Beautiful!" said the daughter. "And mamma, only 
think, she's quicker than Leah, already. I tuned them." 

"I muz call your vader, dough," said the Jewess, and she 
disappeared through the doorway. 

"While I stood talking to the younger Jewess, who had, I 
could see, formed as quick an attachment for me as I for her, 
I heard another nasal and guttural voice (a man's) coming 
towards us from the hall. 

"Is she von of our people?" 

"Nein! She's a Skihoah" meaning, as I afterwards 
learned, a non-Jewish girl. 

Then a tall, thin Jew entered the room behind the elderly 
Jewess. I had never before and have never since seen such 
a patriarchal figure. With his long grey beard and solemn 
face he might have stood for Moses in one of the pictures that 
used to hang on the walls of the convent except for his vel- 
vet skull-cap and the black alpaca apron, which was speckled 
over with fluffy bits of thread and scraps of cloth and silk. 

He looked at me for a moment with his keen eyes, and after 
his wife had shown him my work, and he had taken a pinch of 
snuff and blown his nose on a coloured handkerchief with the 
sound of a trumpet, he put me through another catechism. 

I was trembling lest he should make intimate inquiries, but 
beyond asking my name, and whether I was a Christian, he 
did not concern himself with personal questions. 

"Vat vages do you vant?" he asked. 

I told him I should be pleased to take whatever was paid 
to other girls doing work of the same kind. 



I AM LOST 443 

"Ach no! Dese girls are full-timers. You are only a 
greener [meaning a beginner] so you vill not expect any- 
thing like so much." 

At that his daughter repeated her assurance that I was 
quicker than the girl she had called Leah ; but the Jew, with 
an air of parental majesty, told her to be silent, and then said 
that as I was an "improver" he could only take me "on 
piece," naming the price (a very small one) per half-dozen 
buttons and buttonholes, with the condition that I found my 
own twist and did the work in my own home. 

Seeing that I should be no match for the Jew at a bargain, 
and being so eager to get to work at any price, I closed with 
his offer, and then he left the room, after telling me to come 
back the next day. 

"And vhere do you lif, my dear?" said the Jewess. 

I told her Bayswater, making some excuse for being in the 
East End, and getting as near to the truth as I dare venture, 
but feeling instinctively, after my sight of the master of the 
house, that I dared say nothing about my child. 

She told me I must live nearer to my work, and I said that 
was exactly what I wished to do asking if she knew where 
I could find a room. 

Fortunately the Jewess herself had two rooms vacant at 
that moment, and we went upstairs to look at them. 

Both were at the top of the house, and one of them I could 
have for two shillings a week, but it was dark and cheerless, 
being at the back and looking into the space over the yards in 
which the tenants dried their washing on lines stretched from 
pulleys. 

The other, which would cost a shilling a week more, was a 
lean slit of a room, very sparsely furnished, but it was to the 
front, and looked down into the varied life of the street, so I 
took it instantly and asked when I could move in. 

"Ven you like," said the Jewess. "Everyding is ready." 

So, early next morning I bade farewell to my good Welsh 
landlady (who looked grave when I told her what I was going 
to do) and to Emmerjane (who cried when I kissed her 
smudgy face) and, taking possession of my new home, began 
work immediately in my first and only employment. 

Perhaps it was a deep decline after the splendours of my 
dreams, but I did not allow myself to think about that. I 
was near to Ilf ord and I could go to see Isabel every day. 

Isabel! Isabel! Isabel! Everything was Isabel, for now 



444 THE WOMAN THOU GAVEST ME 

that Martin was gone my hopes and my fears, my love and 
my life, revolved on one axis only my child. 

NINETY-SEVENTH CHAPTER 

MY employer was a Polish Jew, named Israel Abramovitch. 

He had come to England at the time of the religious persecu- 
tion in the Holy Cities of Russia, set himself up in his trade 
as a tailor in a garret in Whitechapel, hired a "Singer," 
worked with "green" labour for "slop" warehouses, and be- 
come in less than twenty years the richest foreign Jew in the 
East End of London, doing some of the "best bespoke" work 
for the large shops in the West and having the reputation 
(as I afterwards found) of being the greatest of Jewish 
"sweaters." 

In spite of this, however, he was in his own way a deeply 
religious man. Strict, severe, almost superstitious in obeying 
the Levitical laws and in practising the sad and rather gloomy 
symbolism of his faith. A famous Talmudist, a pillar of the 
synagogue, one of the two wardens of the Chevra in Brick 
Lane, and consequently a great upholder of moral rectitude. 

His house seemed to be a solid mass of human beings, 
chiefly Jewish girls, who worked all day, and sometimes (when 
regulations could be evaded or double gangs engaged) all 
night, for the Jew drove everybody at high speed, not ex- 
cepting his wife, who cooked the food and pressed the clothes 
at the same time. 

In this hive of industry I needed no spur to make me work. 

Every, morning Mrs. Abramovitch brought up a thick pile 
of vests to my room, and every evening she took them down 
again, after counting my earnings with almost preternatural 
rapidity and paying me, day by day, with unfailing prompti- 
tude. 

At the end of my first week I found I had made ten 
shillings. I was delighted, but after I had paid for my room 
and my food there was not enough for baby's board, so the 
second week I worked later in the evenings, and earned four- 
teen shillings. This was still insufficient, therefore I deter- 
mined to take something from the other end of the day. 

"Morning will be better," I thought, remembering the 
painful noises at night, especially about midnight, when 
people were being thrown out of a public-house higher up the 
street, where there was a placard in the window saying the 



I AM LOST 445 

ale sold there could be guaranteed to "make anybody drunk 
for fourpence. " 

Unfortunately (being a little weak) I was always heavy in 
the mornings, but by great luck my room faced the east, so 
I conceived the idea of moving my bed up to the window and 
drawing my blinds to the top so that the earliest light might 
fall on my face and waken me. 

This device succeeded splendidly, and for many weeks of 
the late summer and early autumn I was up before the sun, as 
soon as the dawn had broadened and while the leaden London 
daylight was filtering through the smoke of yesterday. 

By this means I increased my earnings to sixteen shillings, 
and, as my fingers learned to fly over their work, to seven- 
teen and even eighteen. 

That was my maximum, and though it left a narrow 
margin for other needs it enabled me at the end if a month 
to pay another pound for baby's board and to put away a 
little towards her "shortening," which Mrs. Oliver was al- 
ways saying must be soon. 

I had to stick close to maintain this average, and 1 grudged 
even the time occupied in buying and eating my food, though 
that was not a long process in the Mile End Road, which is 
full of shops where things can be bought ready cooked. 
After the first week I did not even need to go out for them, 
for they were brought round to my room every morning, thus 
enabling me to live without leaving my work. 

It was a stiff life, perhaps, but let nobody think I looked 
upon myself as a slave. Though I worked so hard I felt no 
self-pity. The thought that I was working for my child 
sweetened all my labours. It was such a joy to think that 
baby depended upon me for everything she wanted. 

Being so happy in those days I sang a great deal, though 
naturally not in the middle of the day, when our house was 
going like a mill-wheel, but in the early mornings before the 
electric trams began to clang, or the hawkers with their bar- 
rows to shout, and when there was no sound even in the East 
End except that ceaseless tramp, tramp, tramp in the front 
street which always made me think of the children of Israel 
in Egypt drawing burdens for Pharaoh. 

Throwing open my window I sang all sorts of things, but, 
being such a child myself and so fond of make-believe, I 
loved best to sing my lullaby, and so pretend that baby was 
with me in my room, lying asleep behind me in my bed. 



446 THE WOMAN THOU GAVEST ME 

"Sleep, little ~bdby, I love thee, I love thee, 
Sleep, little Queen, I am bending above thee." 

I never knew that I had any other audience than a lark in 
a cage on the other side of the street (perhaps I was in a 
cage myself, though I did not think of that then) which al- 
ways started singing when I sang, except the washerwomen 
from a Women's Shelter going off at four to their work at 
the West End, and two old widows opposite who sewed 
Bibles and stitched cassocks, which being (so Miriam told 
me) the worst-paid of all sweated labour compelled them to 
be up as early as myself. 

It was not a very hopeful environment, yet for some time, 
in my little top room, I was really happy. 

I saw baby every day. Between six and nine every night, 
I broke off work to go to Ilford, saying nothing about my 
errand to anybody, and leaving the family of the Jew to 
think it was my time for recreation. 

Generally I "trammed" it from Bow Church, because I 
was so eager to get to my journey's end, but usually I re- 
turned on foot, for though the distance was great I thought I 
slept better for the walk. 

What joyful evenings those were! 

Perhaps I was not altogether satisfied about the Olivers, but 
that did not matter very much. On closer acquaintance I 
found my baby's nurse to be a "heedless" and "feckless" 
woman ; and though I told myself that all allowances must be 
made for her in having a bad husband, I knew in my secret 
heart that I was deceiving myself, and that I ought to listen to 
the voices that were saying "Your child is being neglected." 

Sometimes it seemed to me that baby had not been bathed 
but that only gave me an excuse for bathing her myself. 

Sometimes I thought her clothes were not as clean as they 
might be but that only gave me the joy of washing them. 

Sometimes I was sure that her feeding-bottle had not been 
rinsed and her milk was not quite fresh but that only gave 
me the pleasure of scalding the one and boiling the other. 

More than once it flashed upon me that I was paying Mrs. 
Oliver to do all this but then what a deep delight it was 
to be mothering my own baby! 

Thus weeks and months passed it is only now I know how 
many, for in those days Time itself had nothing in it for me 



I AM LOST 447 

except my child and every new day brought the new joy of 
watching my baby's development. 

Oh, how wonderful it all was ! To see her little mind and 
soul coming out of the Unknown! Out of the silence and 
darkness of the womb into the world of light and sound ! 

First her sense of sight, with her never-ending interest in 
her dear little toes! Then her senses of touch and hearing, 
and the gift of speech, beginning with a sort of crow, and 
ending in the "ma-ma-ma" which the first time I heard it 
went prancing through and through me and was more 
heavenly to my ears than the music of the spheres! 

What evenings of joy I had with her! 

The best of them (God forgive me!) were the nights when 
the bricklayer had got into some trouble by "knocking people 
about" at the "Rising Sun" and his wife had to go off to 
rescue him from the police. 

Then, baby being ' ' shortened, ' ' I would prop her up in her 
cot while I sang ' ' Sally ' ' to her ; or if that did not serve, and 
her little lip continued to drop, I both sang and danced, 
spreading my skirts and waltzing to the tune of "Clemen- 
tina" while the kettle hummed over the fire and the brick- 
layer's kitchen buzzed softly like a hive of bees. 

Oh dear! Oh dear! I may have been down in the depths, 
yet there is no place so dark that it may not be brightened 
by a sunbeam, and my sunbeam was my child. 

And then Martin baby was constantly making me think 
of him. Devouring her with my eyes, I caught resemblances 
every day in her eyes, her voice, her smile, and, above all, in 
that gurgling laugh that was like water bubbling out of a 
bottle. 

I used to talk to her about him, pouring all my sentimental 
secrets into her ears, just as if she understood, telling her 
what a great man her father had been and how he loved both 
of us would have done if he had lived longer. 

I dare say it was very foolish. Yet I cannot think it was 
all foolishness. Many and many a time since I have wondered 
if the holy saints, who knew what had really happened to 
Martin, were whispering all this in my ear as a means of 
keeping my love for him as much alive as if he had been 
constantly by my side. 

The climax came when Isabel was about five months old, 
for then the feeling about baby and Martin reached another 
and higher phase. 



44 S THE WOMAN THOU GAYEST ME 

I hardly dare to speak of it, lest it should seem silly \vhen 
it was really so sacred and so exalted. 

The idea I had had before baby was born, that she was 
being sent to console me (to be a link between my lost one 
and me), developed into the startling and rapturous thought 
that the very soul of Martin had passed into my child. 

"So Martin is not dead at all," I thought, "not really 
dead, because he lives in baby." 

It is impossible to say how this thought stirred me ; how it 
filled my heart with thankfulness; how I prayed that the 
little body in which the soul of my Martin had come to dwell 
might grow beautiful and strong and worthy of him -. how I 
felt charged with another and still greater responsibility to 
guard and protect her with my life itself if need be. 

"Yes, yes, my very life itself," I thought. 

Perhaps this was a sort of delirium, born of my great love, 
my hard work, and my failing strength. I did not know, I 
did not care. 

All that mattered to me then was one thing only that 
whereas hitherto I had thought Martin was so far gone from 
me that not Time but only Eternity would bring us together, 
now I felt that he was coming back and back to me nearer 
and nearer and nearer every day. 

MEMORANDUM BY MARTIN CONRAD 

My dear, noble little woman was right in more ways than 
she knew. 

At that very time I was in literal truth hurrying home to 
her as fast as the fastest available vessel could carry me. 

As soon as we had boarded the Scotia at the Cape and 
greeted our old shipmates, we shouted for our letters. 

There were some for all of us and heaps for me, so I scuttled 
down to my cabin, where I sorted the envelopes like a pack 
of cards, looking for the small delicate hand that used to 
write my letters and speeches. 

To my dismay it was not there, and realizing that fact I 
bundled the letters into a locker and never looked at them 
again until we were two days out when I found they were 
chiefly congratulations from my committee, the proprietor 
of my newspaper, and the Royal Geographical Society, all 
welcome enough in their way, but- Dead Sea fruit to a man 
with an empty, heaving heart. 






I AM LOST 449 

Going up on deck I found every face about me shining like 
the aurora, for the men had had good news all round! one 
having come into a fortune and another into the fatherhood 
of twins, and both being in a state of joy and excitement. 

But all the good fellows were like boys. Some of them 
(with laughter seasoned by a few tears) read me funny bits 
out of their wives' letters bits too that were not funny, 
about having "a pretty fit of hysterics" at reading bad news 
of us and "wanting 1 to kiss the newsboy" when he brought 
the paper contradicting it. 

I did my best to play the game of rejoicing, pretending I 
had had good news also, and everything was going splendid. 
But I found it hard enough to keep it going, especially while 
we were sailing back to the world, as we called it, and hearing 
from the crew the news of what had happened while we had 
been away. 

First, there was the reason for the delay in the arrival of 
the ship, which had been due not to failure of the wireless 
at our end, but to a breakdown on Macquarie Island. 

And then there was the account of the report of the loss of 
the Scotia in the gale going out, which had been believed 
on insufficient evidence (as I thought), but recorded in gener- 
ous words of regret that sent the blood boiling to a man 's face 
and made him wish to heaven they could be true. 

We were only five or six days sailing to New Zealand, but 
the strain to me was terrible, for the thought was always 
uppermost: 

"Why didn't she write a word of welcome to reach me on 
my return to civilisation f" 

When I was not talking to somebody that question was 
constantly haunting me. To escape from it I joined the sports 
of my shipmates, who with joyful news in their hearts and 
fresh food in their stomachs were feeling as good as new 
in spite of all they had suffered. 

But the morning we smelt land, the morning the cloud banks 
above the eastern horizon came out hard and fast and sure 
(no dreamland this time), I stood at the ship's bow, saying 
nothing to anybody, only straining my eyes for the yet distant 
world we were coming back to out of that desolate white 
waste, and thinking: 

"Surely 111 have news from her before nightfall." 

There was a big warm-hearted crowd on the pier at Port 
Lyttelton. Treacle said, "Gawd, I didn't know there was 

2F 



450 THE WOMAN THOU GAYEST ME 

so many people in the world, Guv 'nor;" and 'Sullivan, 
catching sight of a pretty figure under a sunshade, tugged at 
my arm and cried (in the voice of an astronomer who has 
discovered a planet), "Commanther! Commanther! A girl!" 

Almost before we had been brought to, a company of 
scientific visitors came aboard; but I was more concerned 
about the telegrams that had come at the same moment, so 
hurrying down to my cabin I tore them open like a vulture 
riving its prey always looking at the signatures first and 
never touching an envelope without thinking: 

"Oh God, what will be inside of it?" 

There was nothing from my dear one ! Invitations to dine, 
to lecture, to write books, to do this and that and Heaven 
knows what, but never a word from her who was more to me 
than all the world besides. 

This made me more than ever sure of the "voices" that 
had called me back from the 88th latitude, so I decided in- 
stantly to leave our ship in New Zealand, in readiness for our 
next effort, and getting across to Sydney to take the first fast 
steamer home. 

The good people at Port Lyttelton were loath to let us go. 
But after I had made my excuses, ("crazy to get back to 
wives and sweethearts, you know") they sent a school of boys 
(stunning little chaps in Eton suits) to sing us off with 
"Forty Years On" which brought more of my mother into 
my eyes than I knew to be left there. 

At Sydney we had the same experience the same hearty 
crowds, the same welcome, the same invitations, to which we 
made the same replies, and then got away by a fast liner 
which happened to be ready to sail. 

On the way "back to the world" I had slung together a 
sort of a despatch for the newspaper which had promoted our 
expedition (a lame, limping thing for want of my darling's 
help to make it go), saying something about the little we had 
been able to do but mo;-e about what we meant, please God, 
to do some day. 

"She'll see that, anyway, and know we're coming back," 
I thought. 

But to make doubly sure I sent two personal telegrams, one 
to my dear one at Castle Raa, and the other to my old people 
at home, asking for answers to Port Said. 

Out on the sea again I was tormented by the old dream of 
the crevassed glacier ; and if anybody wonders why a hulking 



I AM LOST 451 

chap who had not been afraid of a ninety-mile blizzard in 
the region of the Pole allowed himself to be kept awake at 
night by a buzzing in the brain, all I can say is that it was so, 
and I know nothing more about it. 

Perhaps my recent experience with the " wireless" per- 
suaded me that if two sticks stuck in the earth could be made 
to communicate with each other over hundreds of miles, two 
hearts that loved each other knew no limitations of time or 
space. 

In any case I was now so sure that my dear one had called 
me home from the Antarctic that by the time we reached 
Port Said, and telegrams were pouring in on me, I had worked 
myself up to such a fear that I dared not open them. 

From sheer dread of the joy or sorrow that might be en- 
closed in the yellow covers, I got O 'Sullivan down in my cabin 
to read my telegrams, while I scanned his face and nearly 
choked with my own tobacco smoke. 

There was nothing from my dear one! Nothing from my 
people at home either! 

'Sullivan got it into his head that I was worrying about 
my parents, and tried to comfort me by saying that old folks 
never dreamt of telegraphing, but by the holy immaculate 
Mother he 'd go bail there would be a letter for me before long. 

There was. 

We stayed two eternal days at Port Said while the vessel 
was taking coal for the rest of the voyage, and almost at the 
moment of sailing a letter arrived from Elian, which, falling 
into O 'Sullivan 's hands first, sent him flying through the 
steamer and shouting at the top of his voice : 

' ' Commanther ! Commanther ! ' ' 

The passengers gave room for him, and told me afterwards 
of his beaming face. And when he burst into my cabin I 
too felt sure he had brought me good news, which he had, 
though it was not all that I wanted. 

' ' The way I was sure there would be a letter for you soon, 
and by the holy St. Patrick and St. Thomas, here it is," he 
cried. 

The letter was from my father, and I had to brace myself 
before I could read it. 

It was full of fatherly love, motherly love, too, and the 
extravagant pride my dear good old people had of me ("every- 
body's talking of you, my boy, and there's nothing else in 



452 THE WOMAN THOU GAYEST ME 

the newspapers") ; but not a word about my Mary or only 
one, and that seemed worse than none at all. 

"You must have heard of the trouble at Castle Raa. Very- 
sad, but this happy hour is not the time to say anything 
about it." 

Nothing more! Only reams and reams of sweet parental 
chatter which (God forgive me!) I would have gladly given 
over and over again for one plain sentence about my darling. 

Being now more than ever sure that some kind of catas- 
trophe had overtaken my poor little woman, I telegraphed 
to her again, this time (without knowing what mischief I 
was making) at the house of Daniel O'Neill telling myself 
that, though the man was a brute who had sacrificed his 
daughter to his lust of rank and power and all the rest of 
his rotten aspirations, he was her father, and, if her reprobate 
of a husband had turned her out, he must surely have taken 
her in. 

"Cable reply to Malta. Altogether too bad not hearing 
from you," I said. 

A blind, hasty, cruel telegram, but thank God she never 
received it ! M. C. 

[END OF MAKTIN CONRAD'S MEMORANDUM] 

NINETY-EIGHTH CHAPTER 

DAY by day it became more and more difficult for me to 
throw dust in my own eyes about the Olivers. 

One evening on reaching their house a little after six, as 
usual, I found the front door open, the kitchen empty save for 
baby, who, sitting up in her cot, was holding quiet converse 
with her toes, and the two Olivers talking loudly (probably 
by pre-arrangement) in the room upstairs. 

The talk was about baby, which was "a noosance, " inter- 
fering with a man 's sleep by night and driving him out of his 
home by day. And how much did they get for it? Nothing, 
in a manner of speaking. What did the woman (meaning me) 
think the "bleedin' place" was "a philanthropic institoo- 
shun" or a "charity orginisation gime"? 

After this I heard the bricklayer thunder downstairs in his 
heavy boots and go out of the house without coming into 
the kitchen, leaving his wife (moral coward that he was) to 
settle his account with me. 



I AM LOST 453 

Then Mrs. Oliver came down, with many sighs, expressed 
surprise at seeing me and fear that I might have overheard 
what had been said in the room above. 

" Sorry to say I've been having a few words with Ted, 
ma'am, and tell you the truth it was about you." 

Ted had always been against her nursing, and she must 
admit it wasn't wise of a woman to let her man go to the 
public-house to get out of the way of a crying child; but 
though she was a-running herself off her feet to attend to the 
pore dear, and milk was up a penny, she had growd that fond 
of my baby since she lost her own that she couldn't abear to 
part with the jewel, and perhaps if I could pay a little more 
Ted said seven, but she said six, and a shilling a week wouldn 't 
hurt me she could over-persuade him to let the dear precious 
stay. 

I was trembling with indignation while I listened to the 
woman's whining (knowing well I was being imposed upon), 
but I was helpless and so I agreed. 

My complacency had a bad effect on the Olivers, who con- 
tinued to make fresh extortions, until their demands almost 
drove me to despair. 

I thought a climax had been reached when one night a 
neighbour came to the door and, calling Mrs. Oliver into ttie 
lobby, communicated some news in a whisper which brought 
her back with a frightened face for her cloak and hat, saying 
"something was a matter with Ted" and she must "run 
away quick to him." 

When she returned an hour or two later she was crying, 
and with sobs between her words she told me that Ted (having 
taken a drop too much) had "knocked somebody about" at 
the "Sun." As a consequence he had fallen into the hands 
of the police, and would be brought before the magistrate the 
following morning, when, being unable to pay the fine, he 
would have to "do time" just as a strike was a-coming on, 
too, and he was expecting good pay from the Strike Committee. 

"And what is to happen to me and the baby while my 
'usband is in prison?" she said. 

I knew it was an act of weakness, but, thinking of my child 
and the danger of its being homeless, I asked what the amount 
of the fine would probably be, and being told ten-and-six, 
I gave the money, though it was nearly all I had in the world. 

I paid for my weakness, though, and have reason to remem- 
ber it. 



454 THE WOMAN THOU GAVEST ME 

The extortions of the Olivers had brought me to so narrow 
a margin between my earnings and expenses that I lay awake 
nearly all that night thinking what I could do to increase the 
one or reduce the other. The only thing I found possible was 
to change to cheaper quarters. So next morning, with a 
rather heavy heart, I asked Mrs. Abramovitch if the room 
at the back of the house was still empty, and hearing that it 
was I moved into it the same day. 

That was a small and not a very wise economy. 

My new room was cheerless as well as dark, with no sights 
but the clothes that were drying from the pulley-lines and 
no sounds but the whoops of the boys of the neighbourhood 
playing at "Red Indians" on the top of the yard walls. 

But it was about the same as the other in size and furniture, 
and after I had decorated it with my few treasures the 
Reverend Mother's rosary, which I hung on the head of the 
bed, and my darling mother's miniature, which I pinned up 
over the fire I thought it looked bright and homelike. 

All this time, too, I was between the nether and the upper 
mill-stone. 

My employer, the Jew (though he must have seen that I 
was sweating myself much more than the law would have 
allowed him to sweat me), could not forgive himself when 
he found that I was earning more by "piece" than he would 
have had to pay me by the day, or resist the temptation to 
square accounts with me at the earliest possible opportunity. 

Unfortunately, his opportunity came only too quickly, and 
it led (however indirectly) to the most startling fact that has 
ever, perhaps, entered into a woman's life. 

I had not been more than three months at the Jew's house 
when the Jewish festivals came round New Year's Day, the 
Day of Atonement, and the Feast of Tabernacles which, 
falling near together and occupying many days, disturbed his 
own habits of work entirely. 

One of the tasks he reserved for himself was that of taking 
the best paid of his "best-bespoke" back to the large shops 
in the West End, and waiting for the return orders. But 
finding that the festivals interfered with these journeys, he 
decided that they should be made by me, who was supposed 
to know the West End (having lived in it) and to present a 
respectable appearance. 

I was reluctant to undertake the new duty, for though the 
Jew was to pay me a few shillings a week for it, I saw I could 



I AM LOST 455 

earn more in the time with my needle. But when he laid his 
long, hairy forefinger on the side of his nose and said with 
a significant smile : 

"You vill be gradeful, and convenience your employer, 
mine child," I agreed. 

Thus it came to pass that not only during the Jewish fes- 
tivals, but for months after they were over, I carried a rather 
large black bag by tram or rail to the district that lies at the 
back of Piccadilly and along Oxford Street as far west as 
the Marble Arch. 

I had to go whenever called upon and to wait as long as 
wanted, so that in the height of the tailoring season I was 
out in the West End at all irregular hours of night, and even 
returned to my lodgings on one or two occasions in the raw 
sunshine of the early mornings. 

The one terror of my West End journeys was that I might 
meet Sister Mildred. I never did. In the multitude of 
faces which passed through the streets, flashing and disap- 
pearing like waves under the moon at sea, I never once caught 
a glimpse of a face I knew. 

But what sights I saw for all that ! What piercing, piteous 
proofs that between the rich and the poor there is a great 
gulf fixed! 

The splendid carriages driving in and out of the Park; the 
sumptuously dressed ladies strolling through Bond Street; the 
fashionable church paraders; the white plumes and diamond 
stars which sometimes gleamed behind the glow of the electric 
broughams gliding down the Mall. 

"I used to be a-toffed up like that onct," I heard an old 
woman who was selling matches say as a lady in an ermine 
coat stepped out of a theatre into an automobile and was 
wrapped round in a tiger-skin rug. 

Sometimes it happened that, returning to the East End 
after the motor 'buses had ceased to ply, I had to slip through 
the silent Leicester Square and the empty Strand to the 
Underground Railway on the Embankment. 

Then I would see the wretched men and women who were 
huddled together in the darkness on the steps to the river 
(whose ever-flowing waters must have witnessed so many 
generations of human wreckage), and, glancing up at the big 
hotels and palatial mansions full of ladies newly returned 
from theatres and restaurants in their satin slippers and 
silk stockings, I would wonder how they could lie in their 



456 THE WOMAN THOU GAYEST ME 

white beds at night in rooms whose windows looked down on 
such scenes. 

But the sight that stirred me most (though it did not 
awaken my charity, which shows what a lean-souled thing I 
was myself) was that of the "public women," the street- 
walkers, as I used to call them, whom I saw in Piccadilly with 
their fine clothes and painted faces, sauntering in front of 
the clubs or tripping along with a light step and trying to 
attract the attention of the men. 

I found no pathos in the position of such women. On the 
contrary, I had an unspeakable horror and hatred and loath- 
ing of them, feeling that no temptation, no poverty, no pres- 
sure that could ever be brought to bear upon a woman in life 
or in death excused her for committing so great a wrong on 
the sanctity of her sex as to give up her womanhood at any 
call but that of love. 

"Nothing could make me do it," I used to think, "nothing 
in this world." 

But God! how little I knew then what is in a woman's 
heart to do when she has a child to live for, and is helpless 
and alone! 

I cannot expect anybody to forgive me for what / did (or 
attempted to do), and now that the time has come to tell of 
it my hand trembles, and body and soul seem to be quivering 
like a flame. 

May God (who has brought everything to such a glorious 
end) have mercy on me and forgive me, and help me to be 
true! 

NINETY-NINTH CHAPTER 

THE worst consequence of my West End journeys was that 
my nightly visits to Ilford were fewer than before, and that 
the constant narrowing of the margin between my income 
and my expenses made it impossible for me to go there during 
the day. 

As a result my baby received less and less attention, and 
I could not be blind to the fact that she was growing paler 
and thinner. 

At length she developed a cough which troubled me a great 
deal. Mrs. Oliver made light of it, saying a few pennyworths 
of paregoric would drive it away, so I hurried off to a chemist, 
who recommended a soothing syrup of his own, saying it was 
safer and more effectual for a child. 



I AM LOST 457 

The syrup seemed to stop the cough but to disturb the 
digestion, for I saw the stain of curdled milk on baby's bib 
and was conscious of her increasing weakness. 

This alarmed me very much, and little as I knew of chil- 
dren's ailments, I became convinced that she stood in need of 
more fresh air, so I entreated Mrs. Oliver to take her for a 
walk every day. 

I doubt if she ever did so, for as often as I would say: 

"Has baby been out to-day, nurse?" Mrs. Oliver would 
make some lame excuse and pass quickly to another subject. 

At last, being unable to bear the strain any longer, I burst 
out on the woman with bitter reproaches, and then she broke 
down into tears and explained everything. She was behind 
with her rent, the landlord was threatening, and she dared 
not leave the house for a moment lest he should lock her 
out altogether. 

"I don't mind telling you, it's all along of Ted, ma'am. 
He's on strike wages but he spends it at the 'Sun,' He 
has never been the man to me never once since I married 
him. I could work and keep the house comfortable without 
him, but he wouldn't let me a-be, because he knows I love 
him dear. Yes, I do, I love him dear," she continued, break- 
ing into hysterical sobs, "and if he came home and killed me 
I could kiss him with my last breath. ' ' 

This touched me more than I can say. A sense of some- 
thing tragic in the position of the poor woman, who knew the 
character of the man she loved as well as the weakness which 
compelled her to love him, made me sympathise with her for 
the first time, and think (with a shuddering memory of my 
own marriage) how many millions of women there must be 
in the world who were in a worse position than myself. 

On returning to my room that night I began to look about 
to see if I had anything I could sell in order to help Mrs. 
Oliver, and so put an end to the condition that kept my baby 
a prisoner in her house. 

I had nothing, or next to nothing. Except the Reverend 
Mother's rosary (worth no more than three or four shillings) 
I had only my mother's miniature, which was framed in gold 
and set in pearls, but that was the most precious of all my 
earthly possessions except my child. 

Again and again when I looked at it in my darkest hours ' 
I had found new strength and courage. It had been like a 
shrine to me what the image of the Virgin was in happier 



458 THE WOMAN THOU GAVEST ME 

days and thinking of all that my darling mother had done 
and suffered and sacrificed for my sake when I was myself a 
child, I felt that I could never part with her picture under 
the pressure of any necessity whatever. 

"Never," I thought, "never under any circumstances." 

It must have been about a week after this that I went to 
Ilford on one of those chill, clammy nights which seem pecu- 
liar to the East End of London, where the atmosphere, com- 
pounded of smoke and fog and thin drizzling rain, penetrates 
to the bone and hangs on one's shoulders like a shroud. 

Thinking of this, as I thought of everything, in relation to 
baby, I bought, as I was passing a hosier's shop, a pair of 
nice warm stockings and a little woollen jacket. 

When I reached the Olivers' I found, to my surprise, two 
strange men stretched out at large in the kitchen, one on 
the sofa and the other in the rocking-chair, both smoking 
strong tobacco and baby coughing constantly. 

Before I realised what had happened Mrs. Oliver called 
me into the scullery, and, after closing the door on us, she 
explained the position, in whispers broken by sobs. 

It was the rent. These were the" bailiff's men put into 
possession by the landlord, and unless she could find two 
pounds ten by nine o'clock to-morrow morning, she and her 
husband would be sold up and turned into the street. 

"The home as I've been scraping and pinching to keep 
together!" she cried. "For the sake of two pound ten! . . . 
You couldn't lend us that much, could you?" 

I told her I could not, but she renewed her entreaties, ask- 
ing me to think if I had not something I could pawn for 
them, and saying that Ted and she would consider it "a 
sacred dooty" to repay. 

Again I told her I had nothing I was trying not to think 
of the miniature but just at that moment she caught sight 
of the child's jacket which I was still holding in my hand, and 
she fell on me with bitter reproaches. 

"You've money enough to spend on baby, though. It's 
crool. Her living in lukshry and getting new milk night 
and day, and fine clothes being bought for her constant, and 
my pore Ted without a roof to cover him in weather same 
as this. It breaks my heart. It do indeed. Take your child 
away, ma'am. Take her to-night, afore we're turned out of 
house and home to-morrow morning." 

Before the h